Integrity Commission calls on elected officials to submit financials

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Updated: September 20, 2017

The Integrity Commission of Belize has still not received the full cooperation of persons in public office as many are yet to declare their financial affairs for 2016. That is what the Commission announced today in a press release. On July 15, the Commission gazetted a list of these individuals. These included ten members of the National Assembly and twenty-two city and town council members. That was up to July 15, but we understand that since then, some have submitted their information to the Commission. Orange Walk Town Mayor Kevin Bernard, whose name and that of all his councilors were listed, told Love News that he could vouch for himself and all but one councilor, Lougie Gomez. He says they made their declarations shortly after receiving a letter from the Commission. Two Councilors from Belize City, Eric Chang and Roger Espejo were listed, eight from Belmopan and two from Punta Gorda. The Mayor of Punta Gorda, Fern Gutierrez was also listed. The Commission states that in following with the Prevention of Corruption Act, it has submitted a list of these persons who have failed to make a declaration to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution. The Commission, which had been dormant for eight years, was reinstated in early January of this year following a number of demands made to government by teachers in their October 2016 strike. Soon after, the Commission sent out a request asking elected representatives to furnish their financial accounts going back five years. But then they reversed their decision and asked that they declare their financial accounts for the year ending December 2016 only. That was met with protest from not only the Opposition, PUP, but from the Belize Chamber of Commerce which went further demanding that the Commission ask for members of the National Assembly and public officials to declare their account information commencing with the date when they assumed public office. The Commission has not reversed their final decision.