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Portia makes public her financial declarations

Featured Opposition Leader and President of the People's national Party Portia Simpson-Miller Opposition Leader and President of the People's national Party Portia Simpson-Miller
KINGSTON, July 26, 2016 - Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller yesterday released her statutory declared financial records to the Integrity Commission for the last decade: 2006 to 2016 following an application to chairman of Parliament’s Integrity Commission Justice Paul Harrison.

Mrs. Simpson-Miller’s declarations to the Integrity Commission show her holding savings of just under $14 million, as well as stocks and bond investments totalling $48,750.

As of April 6, 2016, Mrs Simpson Miller had US$93,000 invested at Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB). That is J$11.5 million.

There was an additional J$47,000 at JMMB.

Mrs Simpson Miller also has savings at the National Commercial Bank - J$2.2 million in a current account and US$106 in a savings account.

The career politician also has stocks in four different companies with total value of J$58,000.

Mrs Simpson Miller has consistently, over the ten year period, listed a house and land at Kingston 6 as property.

The purchase price was J$58,000, but the documents did not show when the property was bought. The current market value of that property was not included in any of the reports.

Mrs Simpson Miller had an estimated value of a little over J$6 million the year after she first became prime minister.

Over the ten year period, the report showed that she only missed one of the reporting deadlines, and the delay was just by a week - that was in December 2007.

In a letter to Mr. Justice Harrison dated the 29th of June 2016, Mrs Simpson-Miller told Justice Harrison “It is my intention to release to the Public, copies of my Integrity filings over the last ten years. In order to facilitate this, I am requesting that through you, Sir, the Commission releases to me certified or stamped copies of my Integrity Reports submitted for the 2006 to 2015.”

Since Prime Minister Andrew Holness released what is claimed to be details of his personal assets on the 17th of June, there had been calls for Simpson Miller to do the same. Critics say it was her party during the fiery lead-up to the 2016 general election which called for Holness to release his information.

However, many journalists, including the President of the Press Association of Jamaica, Dionne Jackson-Miller, are maintaining that what was claimed to be a public release of his financial information to the press by the Prime Minister leaves much to be desired.

Claiming he had nothing to hide, the Prime Minister summoned three journalists from three media entities to Jamaica House and released to them some information. The journalists included Arthur Hall of the Gleaner, Abka Fitz-Henley of Nationwide Radio and Balford Henry of the Observer.

In fact, it's understood that no copies of the information was allowed to remain with them, hence the information remains unverifiable.

Opposition Spokesman on Finance Dr. Peter Phillips, in commenting on the release of the Prime Minister Holness’ financial details, said the information should have been tabled in Parliament where the information could be verified.

The prime minister has since said that he plans to table legislation in Parliament to ensure that those who head the four major political offices in the island declare and make public their personal assets every year.

These are the prime minister, the minister of finance, leader of the Opposition, and the Opposition’s spokesperson on finance.

Speaking to the press at Jamaica House on June 17, after releasing information on his assets, Holness is reported as saying that the standards must be raised on the importance of reassuring the public about the integrity of political leaders. He said it was also important for public officials to declare their assets to the commission in a timely manner.

Deputy General Secretary of the People’s National Party and Member of Parliament for St Andrew South East Julian Robinson, released details of his financials that have been filed with the Integrity Commission, after questions were raised about his plans to buy a multi-million dollar property.

Parliament’s Integrity Commission has oversight responsibility in ensuring that public officials file annual reports disclosing their income, assets, and liabilities. This is to be done at the start of each parliamentary term.

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