House Speaker wants political donations declared

ST.GEORGE’S, Grenada, June 28, CMC – The speaker of Grenada’s House of Representatives, George McGuire, is proposing that all donations received by politicians here are declared as assets before the Integrity Commission.

But although parliament has approved the setting up of the commission, it is yet to operate owing to a lack of funds.

The statement by McGuire in the lower House of Representatives came after weeks of debate about a campaign contribution Prime Minister Tillman Thomas acknowledged receiving in his personal account.

“In order to enhance the standards of our parliament  and to promote respectable standards of financial practice in public life I wish to propose that all donations received by honourable members declared as assets before the integrity in public life commission,” McGuire told lawmakers.

“In that way we may avoid all the confusion that may result from unfounded allegations of corruption which discredits our parliament and erodes the esteem and effectiveness of all members of the house.”

McGuire’s statement also came ahead of further explanations by Prime Minister Thomas about the donations.

He was responding to questions filed by the opposition.

Prime Minister Thomas said he had no apologies for receiving the donation.

“The political leader of any organization, I submit, would be the most appropriate person to receive a donation on behalf of his organization,” Thomas explained.

“If other political leaders do not trust themselves I trust myself and I know the money is going to be used for the political organization and so it has been used… the money has been disbursed to do the political work among our organization and this is normal within the democratic setting and I have absolutely no apologies for this.”

The Grenadian leader has been under pressure from the opposition New National Party (NNP) to disclose the source of the funds.

But he insisted that it is “against the public interest” to say who sent him 50,000 US dollars which he said was used for the work of his ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

“When people make contribution they don’t want everybody to know what they are doing. This is confidential and I am not going to reveal the source. This is quite within the standing orders,” Thomas said.

“It is against public interest to come and disclose the source of your donation and I am not going to answer that question.”

Neither the NNP when it was in government from 1995 to 2008 nor the NDC, in power since 2008, has heeded calls made by the Organization of American states (OAS) about 15 years ago to introduce laws to regulate campaign finance.