01 August, 2008

Register of Interests

The BVI Missed the Boat with their Register of Interests Legislation. The Register of Interests Act 2006 came into effect in the BVI on 18 February 2008. It requires all members of the House of Assembly to declare their financial interests. This includes directorships, employment, clients, sponsorships, gifts received, overseas visits, land and shareholdings. They will have to file a declaration of their interests each year. There is a Registrar of Interests, Victoreen Romney-Varlack.

As an article in the BVI Beacon of 9 July 2008 makes clear, this register is not open to public inspection. That is a disgrace. It is in the public interest to know what enterprises our representatives hold interests in. We need to measure those interests against the public interest, when we see them voting and behaving in a certain way. It is hard to imagine that there is another reason for having such a register. What use is it if it is secret?

In the United Kingdom, a similar register of members’ interests is updated annually and is open to public inspection.

In the United States, you can inspect the tax returns of members of the House and Senate, and their declarations of interests.

Chalk up another victory for secret and corrupt government in the British Overseas Territories.

Will we in Anguilla do any better when we come to introduce our long-overdue Bill?

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