March 03, 2021
After assuming office in 2017, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis sent a message that he was serious about exposing those parliamentarians — former and current — who failed to file their financial disclosures during the last term as required by law.
Minnis at the time gave them three weeks in which to file, warning that he would turn the file with their names over to the attorney general and instruct him to do what the law prescribes.
We never got a full reporting on who, if anyone, was still outstanding and no action was ever taken.
Under the Public Disclosure Act, 1976, senators, members of Parliament and senior public officers are required to file with the Public Disclosure Commission a declaration of their assets, income and liabilities by March 1.
That date passed on Monday. We have no knowledge at this point of who filed and who failed to, although the government sent out a notice that the prime minister had met the deadline.
While he was open to talking to the media during his time as commission chairman, attorney Myles Laroda, who is set to become the Progressive Liberal Party’s candidate for Pinewood, resigned last week.
The Cabinet Office announced on Monday that George Carey has replaced him.
The commission under Laroda’s leadership has never gazetted any disclosures as the commission is mandated to do under the law.
Laroda, who served as chairman since 2015, said on Monday the commission’s hands were tied by the failure of the Cabinet Office to provide resources for the gazetting.
Incredibly, the most recent gazetted report is from December 2011, and it contains information on disclosures only up to 2008.
“It is what it is,” Laroda said.
“It is 2021 and it’s done for up to 2008. That means 13 years is outstanding.”
That means that over 10 years, the public has not had access to published information on whether parliamentarians and others required to disclose were obeying the law in relation to public disclosures.
“I have been there from 2015 until now, and my knowledge was that for all the period that we were there we functioned basically as a department of the Cabinet Office,” Laroda told National Review.
“We have never, ever, not while I was there published anything. We didn’t have a budget. Our budget for whatever we got came out of whatever was allocated to us…We don’t have an account and we don’t write checks. Everything that is done [is done through the] Cabinet Office.”
Laroda said that everyone required to file for 2018 and 2019 did so with the exception of one senator.
He said the commission needs to be independent to do its work.
Asked about his tenure as chairman, Laroda said, “Things could always have been better. I would say this though, that from 2015 to 2020, the compliance rate went up tremendously, that they were much more compliant…”
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