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Premier declares interests, not sure about colleagues

PREMIER SMITH: "It is their responsibility to declare their interest to the Registrar, and I am not sure the Registrar has a responsibility to remind them on a regular basis.”

PREMIER SMITH: “It is their responsibility to declare their interest to the Registrar, and I am not sure the Registrar has a responsibility to remind them on a regular basis.”

Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith said he has been declaring his personal interests and assets to the Registrar of Interests on an annual basis, adding that he cannot account for the approach being taken by any other member of the House of Assembly.

“I personally have declared my interest every year,” he told journalists in response to questions posed during a press briefing in Road Town yesterday, March 8.

Asked if his colleagues in the legislature are also declaring their interests and assets, the premier replied: “I have not questioned them before, and it is their responsibility to declare their interest to the Registrar, and I am not sure the

Registrar has a responsibility to remind them on a regular basis.”
Of the 13 elected members of the House, 11 are from the premier’s National Democratic Party government.

The issue surrounding the failure of some House members to declare their interests and assets came to the fore last month when Governor John Duncan lamented that some persons have not made the necessary declarations in up to six years.

Meetings to resume

Meanwhile, Registrar of Interests Victoreen Romney-Varlack has complained that she has been having a tough time ensuring the activation of the Register of Interests Select Committee, which is chaired by Minister of Communication and Works Mark Vanterpool.

Romney-Varlack recently told the Standing Finance Committee of the House of Assembly that she has written to Vanterpool four or five times, and has spoken to him in person regarding the need to activate the Register of Interests Select Committee.

While noting that all her efforts have been unsuccessful, Romney-Varlack said she is tempted to invite members of the select committee to a meeting, although she may be out of order for even making such suggestion.

In light of the complaints, journalists yesterday asked for Premier Smith’s reaction to claims that a member of his Cabinet apparently has been frustrating the process, which could negatively affect legislators’ attitude towards declaring their interests.

He said: “Most members of the House – in fact all members of the House [of Assembly] are serious about that matter. We have had discussion about it, and I know that matter of [the Register of Interests Select Committee] having meetings will happen.”

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