Wednesday, Jun 3, 2020
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ORG calls for passage of Integrity Commission Bill

Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) Executive Director Matt Aubry said yesterday that the revelation that Senate President Kay Forbes-Smith is a consultant for Carnival Cruise Lines emphasizes the need for the government to pass the Integrity Commission Bill.

Forbes-Smith confirmed that she is a consultant for Carnival Cruise Lines and told The Tribune that there “would be no conflicts of interest”.

Aubry said he doesn’t believe Forbes-Smith’s consultancy raises any “fires” and noted that “there are no laws preventing or prohibiting a senator or any member of Parliament to hold an outside or side business”.

“I don’t think this current circumstance is the three-alarm fire that some might make it out to be,” he said, making it clear he was not questioning the senator’s integrity in any way.

“But, at the same time, we should have a space that anybody who might have a concern can go to, bring this forward with whatever information or whatever concerns they might have, have it looked at independently and objectively and then ultimately receive a conclusion or decision or an action going forward.

“And we have this bill sitting there tabled. So we can do something about it if we’re that concerned.”

The government tabled the Integrity Commission Bill in October 2017.

However, there has been no movement on it since.

The proposed legislation comprehensively details acts of corruption, including the behavior of public officials with respect to the award of contracts and soliciting or accepting any personal benefit or providing an advantage for another person by doing an act or omitting to do an act in the performance of his or her functions as a public official.

In addition to establishing the Integrity Commission, the bill proposes to promote and enhance ethical conduct for MPs, senators and other public officials.

The bill notes that members “are expected to observe and uphold the seven principles of public life”.

The principles note that holders of public office should declare any private interest related to their public duties; that they are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and that they “should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to individuals or organizations that might compromise them in the performance of their official duties”.

Aubry noted, “…I think as this bill has been tabled, the Integrity Commission Bill, we can be pushing our MPs, our representatives, to push for passage and enactment of such a bill.”

In an interview with The Tribune earlier this week, Forbes-Smith said, “As the president of the Senate, I have every right to work being president.

“I’ve always been working in PR and comms (communications) strategy. I would not take a contract with any government entity, I think that would be a conflict. But anything I do in my private life in the private sector is different.”

The Guardian spoke with Forbes-Smith yesterday but she declined to comment.

This comes after the government announced that it will be investigating reports that Carnival cruise ships dumped 500,000 gallons of treated sewage and food waste in Bahamian waters. The government said that it would consider introducing legislation to better address such incidents.

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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