By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Minnis administration’s slow pace in the prosecution of those three persons who failed to meet the March 31 public disclosures deadline, is in line with the government’s common practice of deceiving the voting public, claimed Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell yesterday.
Responding to questions raised by The Tribune on the matter, Mr Mitchell criticised the Free National Movement for what he called “mamaguying” — a West Indian expression used when another is deceived by flattery or untruths.
Mr Mitchell, who also serves as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, said the government has done nothing to follow through on its promise to prosecute persons who failed to make their annual disclosure of assets and liabilities in accordance with the Public Disclosure Act, ahead of the deadline.
The Public Disclosure Act empowers only two people to act on such information: the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. Either of them can publish the information through a communication in the House of Assembly or cause for it to be laid in the Senate. Either can authorise that the information be presented to the attorney general or commissioner of police so those who failed to disclose could face a penalty. The penalty for not disclosing is a $10,000 fine and/or up to two years in prison.
The hard deadline was initially set at July 3, 2017, by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
However, that deadline was pushed back on multiple occasions, ultimately ending at the March 31 date.
Despite the extensions, it was revealed last month that three persons, two senators and a parliamentarian, had not disclosed by the deadline.
In the days that followed, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold revealed that Prime Minster Hubert Minnis had instructed the chairman of the Public Disclosure Commission, Myles Laroda, to give the Office of the Attorney General information on the officials who had not complied.
However, the government has remained silent on what will become of the process and those who failed to disclose.
Addressing the matter yesterday, Mr Mitchell branded the government “notorious double talkers.”
“We could tangle spiders in the webs the FNM weaves,” he told The Tribune. “How else do you explain the Minister of Health and his admissions of breaking the rules when he campaigned on anti-corruption.”
“Yet Minnis has not fired him”.
Mr Mitchell added: “How else does the corrupt actions surrounding BPL today go unpunished?”
“How do you commit $65 million of public funds when you campaign that the country is broke, with no idea how deep the hole of expenditure will be?
“Public non-disclosure is small potatoes next to that,” he remarked.
The PLP has consistently, over the last few weeks, crticised the government’s handling of public disclosures.
Late last month, Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis called Dr Minnis to live up to his pre-election promises and identify those who had not filed their disclosures in accordance with the act.
Mr Davis said he received a letter from Mr Laroda earlier this year informing him of several Progressive Liberal Party members who had missing disclosures.
Since then, he said, all PLPs are up to date with their disclosures, adding the three people who missed the recent deadline are not from his party.