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EDITORIAL: Excuses over disclosures are dangerous nonsense

THERE appears to be a dangerous nonsense developing in the discussion over parliamentary disclosures.

First, the chairman of the Public Disclosure Commission, Bishop Victor Cooper, suggested that some first-time MPs were unaware of the legal requirement for them to file financial disclosures under the Public Disclosures Act.

Quite how that could be was never explained given the MPs presumed interest in public life, and the regular occurrence of discussions about disclosures in the media.

As it happens, that argument was shot down by press secretary Clint Watson, who said that MPs had indeed been briefed about it during training for parliamentarians. So even those who might somehow not have known were told about it anyway.

However, Mr Watson went on to say that perhaps the parliamentarians were “so consumed with whatever they were doing” that they didn’t meet the deadline or forgot the deadline was there. He suggested it was a “simple oversight”.

Now, the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Mario Bowleg, has weighed in, blaming “mixed communication” for the failure of some to declare by the March 1 deadline.

He said: “I think what happened was there was a mixed communication for some as it relates to the 2020 assets being recorded because, remember now, we should have put our 2020 for the 2021 election and then the 2021 should be recorded for this year as we move into 2022 because it’s the 30th of each year.

“So I think that it was declared during (the) election period, but I guess it wasn’t realised that what was declared to the election process was not handed over to the other unit and so for that reason I think that’s what happened to some of the individuals.”

Let us be clear about that string of excuses. Not one of those excuses matters. It is the law. You either abided by the law or you broke it. It doesn’t matter if you forgot, or if you were busy, or if it was an oversight, or if there was mixed communication. A failure to disclose on time broke the law. All of these excuses sound like a child telling the teacher that their dog ate their homework.

Mr Bowleg has added himself to the list of those who say they met the disclosure deadline – but it is high time we learned who did not. This should not be up for discussion – the public should know.

Instead, all we have is a number of people saying that others did not meet the deadline, but not one person raising their hand and admitting having done so.

If the chairman of the commission isn’t willing to do so, then it’s time for the party chairmen to step up. FNMs, did you all declare on time? PLPs, how about you? Chairmen, bring your lists. You certainly have nothing to fear if all of your party members declared on time. In fact, you can happily use that as political points against your rivals. Unless of course neither party has a full scorecard.

It is ridiculous to play down the reasons for missing the deadline, and no matter what the excuse, it isn’t good enough.

Parliamentarians have to declare. That’s it.

For too many years, this part of the process has not been respected properly – is this current raft of parliamentarians going to continue to disrespect the law?

As for the other MPs who haven’t come forward themselves yet to say whether or not they declared on time, if you’ve done so, why not say? Don’t let your silence make people wonder which side of the law you fall on.

There’s a lot of talk in politics about transparency. This is one of the easiest, most straightforward ways to demonstrate it.

Who met the deadline? Tell the public.

Comments

themessenger 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The cows may come and the cows may go but the bull in this place goes on forever. Typical of our pompous, entitled politicians, Rules for thee, but not for me!

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