Since revealing that the ‘majority’ of parliamentarians have successfully submitted their declarations of assets and liabilities since extending the deadline to March 31, Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) Chairman Myles Laroda said, his office is not as self-sufficient as it seems in holding persons accountable to turning in their financial records.
According to Laroda, while the Free National Movement (FNM) may have pledged to be tougher on parliamentarians and/or civil servants in disclosing their financial assets during its campaign, there are some who have chosen not to comply with the mandate.
As a result, they could face a fine of $10,000 and possible imprisonment. Laroda said however, those consequences only hold true based on the discretion of the Attorney General’s office.
“A fine up $10,000 can be imposed,” Laroda explained.
“If you were to read the old act that came into effect in 1977, the commission is not independent, so before anything can be done, there must be written permission from the Attorney General’s office.”
Laroda confessed to Eyewitness News Online Sunday afternoon that the Public Disclosures Act needs to be amended, repealed or replaced.
“It’s easy to say it’s not independent because the person who is responsible for giving the sign-off is also subject to the act,” he said.
“We are in unchartered territories because as far as I know, there has not been anyone who has been persecuted under the act.”
Laroda noted that no one has blatantly opposed turning in their records. He said, those who the commission is still waiting on, may actually face the consequences.
“They’re not going to say, ‘no I’m not going to declare’, you just know that when they didn’t,” Laroda said.
“The complaints that would come would usually not be in situations where people were unwilling to disclose but instead, due to having people meet certain time frames with bank statements.”
When asked to give an exact number of those who have disclosed so far, Laroda said, he is not in a position to do that just yet.
“I have to compile the figures, then we would notify the prime minister and the leaders of the opposition,” he explained.
“It won’t be fair to them, and it would be irresponsible of me to throw out figures before I give numbers to the them first.”
Opposition Leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis and National Security Minister Marvin Dames confirmed to Eyewitness News Online earlier this week that they had both turned in their financial records to the public disclosure office.
Both ministers sang the same tune saying all public heads in office should be ready and willing to comply with the act as it is a part of the ‘job description’ of public office.