Neither party ready to make asset disclosure public

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The political leaders of both the governing party and the main opposition party have raised objections to making politicians’ asset declarations public.

The Integrity in Public Life Act 2004 requires those running for office to declare their assets to the Integrity Commission but it provides that the declarations remain secret and even imposes jail time for breaches of that confidentiality.

Leader of the ruling Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) Prime Minister Gaston Browne said, “I would say [public disclosure] may be desirable but not necessarily practicable in the existing circumstances and the prevailing culture.”

According to him “public disclosure is a double edged sword” that brings certain security risks of “crime and violence including theft and abduction”.

Browne, speaking on OBSERVER Radio, on Sunday, suggested that when his home was broken into in August, it was because of the “rhetoric” circulating about his wealth after he gave details of his assets in Parliament.

Yesterday, United Progressive Party (UPP) Political Leader Senator Harold Lovell told OBSERVER that making declarations public could “deter persons from entering public office”.

“Somebody could say ‘I don’t need the whole world to know what I have … and therefore I’m not going to enter public life’.”

(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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