Principles call

RETIRED Chief Justice of Barbados Sir David Simmons believes that persons in public life should aspire to follow the seven “Nolan principles”, which form part of a broader Code of Conduct.

His comments came on Wednesday night during the Rotary Club of Barbados South 32nd Anniversary Charter Night and Vocational Service Awards which was held at the Accra Beach Hotel.

The principles are: Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Openness, Accountability, honesty and leadership.

Saying that he would not speak directly to the upcoming elections in Barbados and stating that he already spoke on the need for Integrity Legislation in Barbados, Sir David, who is the Chairman of the Integrity Commission of the Turks & Caicos, believes that Standards in Public Life which were established under a committee chaired by Lord Nolan in the UK in 1995 would keep the country in good stead. He revealed that the seven principles have already been embraced by Trinidad & Tobago, Cayman and Turks & Caicos.

“Ideally these standards should be set out and incorporated in a more expansive Code of Conduct, which sets out imperatives and prescriptions. But I trust that it is obvious that the concept of integrity in public life embodies much more than just honesty or incorruptibility.”

He noted that Trinidad has adopted these principles as part of the mandate of their Integrity Commission adding that persons in public life in Turks & Caicos are limited by the Integrity Commission Act, which also includes declaration of assets and liabilities.

Touching on the subject of good governance, he believes that there are five main principles which fall under this heading. These include: Adherence to the rule of Law, Accountability, transparency, responsiveness and efficiency/effectiveness.

As it relates to accountability, Sir David said: “It is the principle that applies whether we deal with good governance or integrity. Persons to whom power is entrusted must always be prepared in exercising that power to account to those who gave them. I think that particularly in relation to statutory boards, accountability had at least two other connotations. First, the reports of the activities of the statutory boards should be presented to the minister or the parliament in a timely manner. Almost every act of Parliament that sets up a statutory board requires the board to report and present audited accounts to the Minister annually.”

He also stressed that board members have a duty to ensure that public funds are safeguarded and that the entity at all times conducts its operations in such a way that the entity gets value for money.

The retired Chief Justice stressed that persons in public life, should not knowingly allow private interest to compete with public duties or influence conduct in the performance of duties. (JH)

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