Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Four Parliamentarians yet to declare assets

Published:Saturday | November 28, 2015 | 11:36 AM
PNP supporters at a mass meeting in Race Course, Clarendon, on Thursday night.
Patricia Duncan-Sutherland and Noel Arscott entertain party faithfuls during a PNP mass meeting in Race Course, Clarendon, on Thursday night at which Peter Phillips called for Opposition Leader Andrew Holness to declare his assets for public scrutiny.
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MICHAEL PEART, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has refused to indicate whether Opposition Leader Andrew Holness is in breach of the Parliament (Integrity of Members) Act, which requires legislators to make full disclosure about their assets and liabilities.

Peart told The Gleaner yesterday that he is in receipt of a status report from the Integrity Commission, which shows that about four members from both sides of the political aisle are in breach of the law.

However, he refused to say whether Holness is among them. “You know I could not disclose,” Peart responded yesterday when asked whether the Commission had concerns about Holness’ declaration. The Integrity Commission is obliged to submit status reports on declarations of parliamentarians to the prime minister, the leader of the Opposition, the Speaker of the House and the president of the Senate.

“I have received status reports and I think about three or four members filed incomplete reports,” Peart said. He told The Gleaner that the reports in question were for last year, noting that the deadline for filing is March 2015. The matter surrounding the declarations of parliamentarians’ assets and liabilities has been brought forcefully into the public space by Dr Peter Phillips, the campaign director of the People’s National Party (PNP), who has called on Holness to lay bare his declaration to the Commission.

“It is a question of which leader you trust to manage the affairs of the country,” Phillips said, while addressing a PNP mass meeting in Race Course, South West Clarendon, on Thursday night.

NOT PUTTING SERVICE ABOVE SELF

Phillips, as he has been doing on the campaign trail, raised questions about Holness’ priorities and pointed to his mansion being built in Beverly Hills, St Andrew, as an indication that he is not putting service in public life above self. “I couldn’t care less what size house anybody live inna. As a private citizen, everybody is free to do what they want. But when you offer yourself for service, you come under a different kind of scrutiny. People want to know what it is that moves your heart. Is it service for people? Is it service to self? Phillips said.

“I nuh call nobody name, but let me say this. I never raised the question of integrity, but I want to put this on the table. The Integrity Commission gives a report to the leaders of the two parties. So, in this situation, dem give a report to the prime minister and a report to the leader of the Opposition, who is the person who is complaining. But he is in the position where he is receiving the report about himself. If him want the whole country to know all the facts, then what him must do, like Prime Minister Patterson did one time, is publish all the facts so all the people of Jamaica can form the judgment for themselves.”

“I have no concern if it is a man heart to live in a house that is like a palace. It is of no concern to me. I just say God bless him. But if you offer yourself for leadership of the country, you have to come under some sort of scrutiny,” Phillips said.

The Parliament (Integrity of Members) Act provides that every parliamentarian shall furnish the Commission with a statutory declaration of his assets and liabilities.

Any parliamentary leader to whom a report is made may publish any information furnished to him by the Commission; or authorize any member or any other person having official duty under this Act or being employed in the administration of this Act to furnish information to the director of public prosecutions, any officer of the court, the police, or any other person specified by the parliamentary leader