Ministerial Code of Conduct– only 1 response submitted – PMThe office of the Integrity Commission is again inviting members of the public to submit comments on the draft Code of Conduct for all Ministers of Government, Members of the National Assembly and public office holders.Speaking with the media on Monday, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said even with an extension granted for submissions to be made, Government has so far only received one submission and that was from the Guyana Bar Association.“The Code of Conduct would go through an exercise of an advertisement for further submission. We have received only one submission in terms of contribution and that is from the Guyana Bar Association. Though Government had put out an article that it is opened for submissions, we have not received any submissions as yet,” Nagamootoo told Journalists on Monday.The call for the swift enforcement of the Ministerial Code of Conduct became more pronounced, following the public debate about the appointment of businessman and Contractor Brian “BK” Tiwari as an adviser on business development to Minister of State Joseph Harmon.According to Nagamootoo, the time frame will also be set for submissions. He said Government was also seeking to solicit best practices from other Caribbean countries.“I have already asked for copies of integrity legislation from Trinidad and we are looking how to merge the Code of Conduct with the integrity legislation… integrity legislation would demand requirement of someone who holds public office and the Code of Conduct is setting either a higher or lower standard,” he assured.As it is now, Nagamootoo said, “We will have to wait, I believe not later than six weeks for the submissions to be made.”ContractionAt the beginning of March, Government had said that it was extending the countrywide consultation on the subject, opening opportunities for civil society to give its extensive input on the way forward. However, the Prime Minister is contradicting what Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, who in his capacity as Governance Minister on November 5, 2016 had said. Trotman at a post-Cabinet media briefing had disclosed that the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) sent their feedback and that Government is in the process of reviewing those suggestions.“We are trying to see how we can incorporate those comments,” Trotman said.Red Thread on January 5, also offered its input into the Code of Conduct. Executive Member of Red Thread, Karen De Souza had said that the Code of Conduct should have included the dismissal of persons if faced with enough evidence.According to the Ministry of the Presidency, the purpose of the Code of Conduct is to assist Ministers and Members of Parliament (MPs) and public office holders in the discharge of their obligations to their constituents and the public at large.It provides guidance on the values – the moral qualities – that should govern the conduct of Ministers and MPs in discharging their parliamentary and public duties. It is also meant to reinforce public confidence in the way in which Ministers and public office holders perform those duties.Ministers, by virtue of the oath or affirmation of allegiance taken when they are elected, have a duty to be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, according to law.Public office holders are duty-bound by this Code in all aspects of their public life. This Code does not seek to regulate the conduct of public office holders in their private and personal lives.Public office holders have a duty to uphold the law, including the general law against discrimination and sexual harassment, and to act with propriety on all occasions in accordance with the public trust and confidence placed in them.Public office holders have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole and owe a special duty of care to their constituents, and citizens.The Code of Conduct says that the acceptance of gifts and other forms of rewards worth more than $10,000 by Ministers, MPs and other public office holders in their official capacity shall be reported to the Integrity Commission. Ministers, MPs and public office holders should consider declining such gratuities if the acceptance of same could be perceived to have an effect on their objectivity and lead to complaints of bias or impropriety.The Code of Conduct lays out that Ministers, MPs and public office holders should also avoid using their official position or transmitting any information made available to them in the course of their duties to benefit themselves, their relations or any other individuals with whom they are associated. They should avoid compromising themselves or their office and any action which may lead to an actual or perceived conflict of interest. Failure to avoid or declare any conflict of interest may give rise to criticism of favouritism, abuse of authority or even allegations of corruption.