MLA info access to improve

| 02/07/2014

(CNS): The register showing the commercial interests and possible conflicts faced by the islands’ political representatives is to be improved to make it easier to understand, more accessible and contain more information. The chair of the Legislative Assembly’s Register of Interests Committee, Wayne Panton, told CNS that he is meeting with the clerk of the parliament this week to begin reshaping how MLAs declare their interests, blazing the trail for how all public officials will reveal their interests once the Standards in Public Life law is implemented. Government is reviewing the legislation following concerns from volunteer board members that the law will force them to resign, but in the meantime Panton wants elected officials to be more transparent.

The Register of Interests kept at the Legislative Assembly is not currently up to date, not easily accessible and doesn’t provide for full and frank disclosure from members. Anyone wishing to see the register has to make an appointment to do so and their viewing of the information is constantly supervised. Neither the public nor the media are allowed to copy the contents and the historical record of MLAs is not available.

In a review of the files in March CNS found a fragmented, disorganised file that hadn’t been updatedsinceNomination Day. Members’ declarations are not always clear and they currently reveal their business interests in hand written submissions that vary in presentation and completeness.

However, with the passage of the Standards in Public Life law, the members will have to declare much more detail regarding their interests and those of close family. The ethics law also requires senior civil servants to show their interests but the law has encountered problems with volunteer board members.

As a result of the broad requirements under the law to reveal all related interests, some volunteers serving as directors on government companies and statutory authorities working in the private sector have raised concerns that they could be in professional conflict if they are required to declare details relating to their firms or even clients.

In an effort to avoid mass resignations and future difficulties recruiting members the law is set to be changed.

However, Panton said that he did not want to see that delay the changes needed to improve the Register of Interests and its accessibility. Panton told CNS that the current state of affairs is not sufficient and he will be seeking a way to make the information about himself and his political colleagues in the first instance far more accessible and easier to understand.

With many of the local politicians and ministers having extensive business interests, including Panton, who has nine directorships, and Moses Kirkconnell, who has interests in more than a dozen different business as well as land holdings, the purpose of the register is to make it easy for the public to see potential conflicts.

See related story with the Register of Interests, as compiled by CNS from notes, made during an appointment at the LA.

MLA full disclosure stalled

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Let's hope the Law is detailed enough to act like our Complinace Laws do with PEPs (Politically Exposed Persons), in that declarations of interest not only reflect the interests they themselves own, but also that of family members. 

    Let’s not forget that one can place investments (and their profits) through family members.

  2. Anonymous says:

    They might begin by asking Mr.Bush to declare any interest he might have in the Brac as he seems very concerned about development over there recently.

  3. anonymous says:

    Let them all resign. Do not be held to randomize or be influenced by those at the trough.


  4. anonymous says:

    Make each board member reapply for the position with a portfolio of what they have achieved in the past etc. Something like the PR application. Couple this with the declaration of interests. Those that make the grade stay. Do not accept one single resignation, let's see how much value for moneythey have been and what service to the public they provide. If they don't, then sack them.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Start looking for new, forward thinking board members. Arrange a drop off point for the mass resignations so no more time or expense is wasted on them.

  6. And Another Zting says:

    Hmmm when? Time frame is important too much time = divestiture

  7. Anonymous says:

    Helllooo Mister Panton I don't think you and the Clerk can make any changes to the reporting style, system or other requirements to the Register of Interest. I did not see a report from your committee tabled in the Legislative Assembly, did you have any meetings last year.


  8. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Wayne. It's long overdue.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well if current board members are worried about their interests being in conflict with their appointments than they shouldn't have been appointed in the first place!!! Tough for these good ol' boys to relinquish power isn't it!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Yes, and pigs are about to fly. Come on people, do you even believe a word of this?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Let them resign.

    Plenty of people capable of being on boards without wanting $600 a session


    • Anonymous says:

      I have served on Boards for the past 20+ years and I have NEVER received $600 per session. Most of it has been completely free. Nor have I gained any other benefits. It has been purely for the love my of my country. But if you think I am going to lay out all of my financial information so that certain people can misuse then you're mad.  

      • Anonymous says:

        And that is the sort of attitude that fuels corruption.  So please leave the boards you are on and take your unhealthy attitude with you.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Board members can provide details or leave the board.  Simple.

  13. Anonymous says:

    If they're afraid of exposing possible conflict of interest, let them resign from these often crony-appointed boards.  These boards typically wield tremendous power.  Isn't it time that board members were elected by the people, with all meetings open to the public?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Of course board members don't want to show their interests, all those "secret profits" they have been getting by ignoring conflicts of interest and governance will come to light. The planning board will be an absolute shocker of conflicts.

  15. Anonymous says:

    As it is not enforced nor monitored it will remain a joke.

  16. Anonymous says:

    About bloody time the current system us shambolic!