Archbishop presses Holness on Integrity filings

Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ failure to get the all-clear from the Integrity Commission in the filing of his statutory declarations has raised concern from Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kingston, the Rev Kenneth Richards, who says it is incumbent that the head of government lead by example.

Howard Mitchell and Lloyd Distant, leaders of two of Jamaica’s most powerful business lobbies, have also pressed the prime minister on the anti-corruption watchdog’s declaration in a May 13 press briefing that he and seven other current and former parliamentarians have not been cleared in its 2017 report.

Richards, according to reports, on Wednesday, alluded to Holness’ commitment to the people of Jamaica, at his swearing-in, in 2016, that he would stamp out even the hint of corruption.

“That offered great hope to our country. He said he was going to be doing everything to ensure corruption is not a part of his government,” said the archbishop. “But to hear that he has not himself complied with the guidelines, with respect to reporting his statutory declarations, it questions his commitment and will start eating away at his credibility and our own faith in him as a person who does what he says he will do.”

Richards urged all public servants to comply with the statute mandating the declaration of income, assets, and liabilities.

“I don’t know what it is that leaders find difficult in making their declarations. … This will give a sense of believability when they fulfil requirements that are there for them to uphold. There has to be some commitment and action on their part that they intend to clean up and remove corruption as part of a staple of government and a staple in society. It is important that as leader, he provides that kind of example,” the archbishop said.