Integrity Commission chairman: I made no statement on funding

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Integrity Commissioner chairman Prof Rajendra Ramlogan. – File photo

INTEGRITY Commission chairman Prof Rajendra Ramlogan told the Prime Minister that he did not issue any press release with respect to funding for the commission.

Ramlogan made this comment on Thursday in response to a Facebook post by Dr Rowley on Wednesday.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the commission said that it has initiated legal action in the High Court to determine what is the State’s obligation under the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA) to provide it with adequate financial support.

The commission said it sought the opinion of the Solicitor General “as to its understanding of its mandate as well as its understanding of the State’s obligation in providing adequate financial support to enable it to discharge same.”

The Solicitor General, the commission continued, has agreed with its understanding of its mandate and of the State’s obligation, under the IPLA.

“That notwithstanding, and despite consistent pleas during the entirety of its tenure, budgetary allocations to the 17th Commission have been the leanest in 15 years; too lean, if the trend continues, for the Commission to effectively function. “

Figures provided by the commission showed it received funding of $66,857,170, $83,556,000, $58,561,925, $37,322,550 and $25,650,452 for the periods 2009-2011, 2012-2014, 2015-2017, 2018-2020 and 2021-2023 respectively.

Against this background, the commission said it was constrained to initiate proceedings in the High Court to address this matter.

Rowley responded to this statement in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

He said, “I have seen the recent release from the chairman of the Integrity Commission. The tenor of which suggests that the Integrity Commission is underfunded.”

In a brief statement issued by the commission, Ramlogan said,”I wish to clarify that I have not issued any press release on funding.”

He added that the press release Rowley mentioned “was an official release of the entire commission.”

Ramlogan said it was factually inaccurate for Rowley to say that “the chairman issued a press release.”

He added, “I have no such statutory or other authority or power as chairman to issue any press release on behalf of the commission unilaterally.”

Ramlogan made no comment on anything else Rowley mentioned in his post.

Rowley described the commission’s statement on Tuesday as “an interesting perspective, having regard to the number of investigations which I am personally aware have been launched by the very said Integrity Commission, including more than one in relation to myself.”

He said one of those matters was “a very recent investigation which was launched on November 23, 2023 and concluded on December 29, 2023 with respect to a matter which had previously been investigated and reinvestigated with no finding of a breach of the Act (IPLA).”

That matter involved what was seen as Rowley’s failure to declare a townhouse he bought in Tobago among his assets to the commission on one of his declaration forms.

Rowley said, “I permit myself to posit that maybe the issue is far too many ill-advised and politically-motivated investigations have been embarked upon by the Integrity Commission and more circumspect investigations need to be conducted in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Act.”

National Transformation Alliance (NTA) leader Gary Griffith and Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally criticised Rowley’s statements.