The PSOJ is deeply concerned about the findings in the recently concluded report from the Integrity Commission which revealed that a raft of breaches and acts of impropriety took place at the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) between 2012 – 2018. These acts of impropriety are a disservice to the Jamaican people, and it is imperative that government officials, elected and selected, be held to account for all inappropriate actions.
The findings in this report highlight the need to ensure that public boards are carefully selected, well-trained and of the highest integrity.
The PSOJ believes that Jamaica has taken tremendous steps to advance the governance of public bodies via the passage of the Public Bodies Management and Accountability (Nomination, Selection and Appointment to Boards) Regulations passed on December 7, 2021. When in force, these Regulations ensure that persons appointed to serve on boards have the requisite competencies and are fit and proper. We are, however, awaiting the gazetting of these Regulations and urge that this be done forthwith.
The next step in achieving better governance will be to ensure that directors of boards are adequately trained to discharge their fiduciary responsibilities including how to handle conflicts of interest. The proper discharge of fiduciary responsibilities requires board members to act in the best interest of the organizations which they serve.
While the law currently allows for the Minister of National Security to exercise his/her discretion, in relation to the granting of firearm licences and permits, we are suggesting that this power be removed in the Firearms Act currently under review before a joint select committee in Parliament. This is also in alignment with the recent views expressed publicly by the Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang and Opposition spokesperson on National Security, Peter Bunting.
We also suggest that a suitable body be mandated to conduct annual audits of the granting of licenses by the FLA as it is unacceptable that it has taken four years for this report to be concluded and for these major breaches to be addressed.
We look forward to more reasoned discussions on this matter as we seek to eliminate its repeat in the future.