Parliamentarians fail to file integrity declarations – covid19 blamed

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal

SEVERAL parliamentarians blamed the covid19 pandemic for them, so far, not having filed their 2021 annual declaration under the Integrity in Public Life Act.

Speaking to Newsday recently, several of them promised their prompt attention to the matter.

The Integrity Commission on February 1, published in the online TT Gazette a list of several pages of names of public officials who had not yet made a declaration of their personal income, assets and liabilities, for 2014-2021, including 25 parliamentarians for 2021.

Last Monday in a paid press advert in Newsday, the commission vowed legal action by way of seeking an ex-parte order in the High Court to require all officials to file their integrity forms.

Newsday tried to call most of the parliamentarians who still hold office, on Thursday and Friday, to get their response to the commission’s concerns.

Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland, “I really don’t want to comment. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.”

Minister of Communications Symon de Nobriga, “As soon as possible I’ll be making the necessary inquiries to make sure this thing is rectified.”

Minister in the Ministry of Finance Brian Manning referred Newsday to his February 2, media statement, “It will be done in a month. It’s been a very busy time and the process can be tedious and time-consuming.”

Newsday tried but was unable to contract MPs/ministers Stuart Young, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Marvin Gonzales and Stephen Mc Clashie.

Government Senator Laurel Lezama, “I traditionally file every year without fail. I don’t know if there is an outstanding document I have for them. I’ll reach out to the Integrity Commission. I’ll co-operate with the Integrity Commission.”

Minister of Trade and Industry Senator Paula Gopee-Scoon said, “I’m in the process of completing,” while Minister of Culture, Tourism and the Arts Senator Randall Mitchell offered no comment.

Newsday also tried but was unable to contract Minister of Public Administration, Senator Allyson West.

Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee, “Last year with all the covid issues and that, I had asked for an extension. I forgot my extension had expired. Since then I have filed.”

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, “I’m in the final stages of putting the dots and crossing the T’s on both the 2021 and 2022 returns.” He said during the covid19 period many employees such as bank staff, who should have supplied financial details to individuals to file in their integrity declarations, had been off-work, due to lockdowns, illness, ill relatives.

“The amount of information required, normally we’d do it with minimum inconvenience but during the covid time it was very difficult to get information due to the lockdown.”

Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram was in a meeting on Friday and promised to get back to Newsday.

Opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial, “I filed in 2019 and 2020. For 2021, I requested some info from the bank and was waiting on it. I got very busy and forget to follow it up.

“I should have it completed in very short order.”

Other parliamentarians who had not filed up to February 1, were Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally, Opposition Senators Jearlean John and Damien Lyder, Senate Vice President Dr Yunus Mohammed Ibrahim, former senator Clarence Rambharat, Independent Senator Paul Richards, and temporary senators Ndale Young, Augustus Thomas, Harvey Borris, Renuka Rambhajan, Dr Tim Gopeesingh and Terron Mohan.