First Look

NIA appreciates MP Robinson’s disclosure of his finances

National Integrity Action Limited | 2016-06-07 00:00:00

Calls on other MPs Particularly Prime Minister Holness who had so promised to do likewise

NIA wishes to express its appreciation to Member of Parliament Julian Robinson for publicly disclosing his statutory declaration, an important step towards enhancing transparency and accountability in our governance arrangements, and calls on other Members of Parliament, on both sides of the aisle, to follow this example, most of all, Prime Minister Andrew Holness who had pledged to make public his own financials.

NIA is well aware that disclosure practices vary widely among democracies, from the United States and South Africa, on the one hand, where the personal finances of public officials are by and large open to the public to, on the other, the UK and many Commonwealth countries where public disclosure is not usually required by law.

In Jamaica’s specific circumstances however, confidence in Parliamentarians and other public officials has been falling and is now at an all-time low; hence special measures are required to begin to restore trust. Amongst these, in the short run, is voluntary disclosure by MPs and, ultimately, an amendment of the law to institute obligatory disclosure.

We recall that Prime Minister  Holness  had in fact pledged in the JLP manifesto to ‘introduce mandatory disclosure of Integrity Reports by the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Minister of Finance’( p 15 ). We request that the necessary amendment be expeditiously drafted to bring about this increased level of transparency.

The situation becomes even more urgent in the context of unacceptably low levels of full and timely compliance with existing regulations under the law concerning the statutory declarations now being filed confidentially. In this regard, the most recent Annual Report of the Integrity Commission recently laid in Parliament for the year 2013 reveals that of 84 MPs, the Integrity Commission ‘was unable to complete examination of 36 of these declarations as the additional information requested in order to properly analyse/complete these had not been presented’. Of these 36 MPs named in Appendix 111 of the Report, 18 were from the then PNP Government side (including 7 Ministers/Ministers of state) and 18 from the then JLP Opposition side, including the then Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness.

I have therefore written to the Integrity Commission asking when the Annual Reports for 2014 and 2015 will be sent to the Office of the Prime Minister and subsequently laid in Parliament as required by law.

In the light of the above, NIA calls:
• on all those, in either party, as well as the public at large , to make their voices heard in calling on MPs to voluntarily release their financials as MP Robinson has done;
• on PM Holness in particular  to publish his own statutory declarations as he had promised and
• on the government to fulfill the campaign promise to make mandatory the publication of the financials of the PM, the Minister of Finance and the Leader of the Opposition

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