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Politicians Registry of Interests should be Public- Romney-Varlack

- Hon. Julian Fraser disagrees and suggested that it goes public after seven years!
Mrs. Victoreen Romney-Varlack the Registrar of Interests has suggested that the registry kept by her of elected members interests and assets should be made public. However, at least one member of the House of Assembly does not think so, but believes it should wait for 7 years before it becomes public. The Registrar of Interests is mandated by the 2007 Virgin Islands' Constitutional Order in sec 112. Photo: Facebook
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- The 2007 Virgin Islands Constitution has a provision in section 112 for a Registrar of Interest whereby elected officials must declare their assets, income and liabilities. However, the record is not public.

The Office of the Registrar of Interest is headed by Mrs. Victoreen Romney-Varlack. She appeared before the 2012 House of Assembly’s Standing Finance Committee (SFC) to defend her 2013 Budget request.

During Mrs. Romney-Varlack testimony, the member for the third district Honourable Julian Fraser RA, enquired if the office was broadening its scope by expanding its powers.

The Registrar informed that in terms of scope, the Registrar would maintain the Registry of Interest in accordance with the Constitution. She noted that in order to do so the Standing Select Committee (SSC) needed to be appointed and the House of Assembly needed to pass the relevant Act. Mrs. Romney-Varlack also noted that the registry could be extended to senior government employees who would have to declare their interests but the Act needed to be amended to accommodate them.

Additionally, Mrs. Romney-Varlack told the SFC that she suggested “that the registry become public record.”

However, the member for the third district Honourable Julian Fraser RA, expressed that he did not think that the registry should become public record immediately and suggested that it should only do so after seven years. Hon. Fraser also noted that Members of the House SSC could request the information confidentially.

Mrs. Romney-Varlack told the Committee that there was a conflict of interest, if a Member was in default.  She noted that was why she was proposing a stand-down of a SSC of the House and in turn appoint a committee comprised of private citizens.

Mrs. Romney-Varlack also noted that the United Kingdom Registrar of Interest laws, which she looked at are restricted to elected members of Parliaments only and not senior public officers.

What the 2007 Virgin Islands’ Constitution Registration of interests states

112.—(1) There shall be for the Virgin Islands a Register of Interests, which shall be maintained by a Registrar who shall be appointed, and may be removed from office, by the Governor acting in his or her discretion.

(2) It shall be the duty of any person to whom this section applies to declare to the Registrar, for entry in the Register of Interests, such interests, assets, income and liabilities of that person, or of any other person connected with him or her, as may be prescribed by law.

(3) A person shall make a declaration under subsection (2) upon assuming the functions of his or her office and at such intervals thereafter (being no longer than twelve months) as may be prescribed by law.

(4) This section applies to all members of the House of Assembly (including Ministers) and the holders of such other offices (except that of Governor) as may be prescribed by law.

(5) A law made under this Constitution shall make provision for giving effect to this section, including the sanctions which may be imposed for a failure to comply with, or the making of false statements in purported compliance with, subsections (2) and (3) and, notwithstanding anything contained in Chapter 5, the sanctions which may be imposed may include the suspension of a member of the House of Assembly from sitting and voting in the House for such period as may be prescribed in such a law. 

26 Responses to “Politicians Registry of Interests should be Public- Romney-Varlack”

  • bigger picture (06/01/2013, 14:01) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    the idea for the registry of interest is to monitor potential conflicts of interest by members of government. the governing body may be seen as a closed "club" where ministers protect each other so as not to rock the boat. who is monitoring the inmates.? who is understanding that even the premier has real estate interests on wickham's key around the pier park?

    how many ministers are members of the investment club, and why is Fraser reluctant for the public to see his process in moving forward with the landfill and (illegal) development of Sea Cow Bay? The public actually does have a right to see these portfolios under a freedom of information act of some kind. We are not talking about using information as slanderous entertainment, but those truly concerned should have a vehicle to research connections between unpopular projects (who gives permission to whom for what), in exchange for what. Of course, leases and agreements should be available to the public anyway to check for conflicts and understanding before unmentioned intentions -which often get overlooked in the fine print- get buried.
  • Well Well (06/01/2013, 14:08) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    I thought that this would go as smooth as a ice,ut no Frazer had to spoil it yet again. Trying to make all members look alike. If you have nothing to hide from the people who elected you ,why wait for seven years. All those in favor say nice .
    • my two cents (06/01/2013, 20:42) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      What timing! What naked and obscene politics! HOW CAN FRASER LEAD THE VIP IF HE DOES NOT SUPPORT TRANSPARENCY?
  • Eagle and Buffalo (06/01/2013, 15:11) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    The government of the Virgin Islands should be government in the sunshine. It must be transparent. As such elected officials, high level civil servants and others should declare what asset they own. This is necessary to prevent and any highlight potential sources of conflict of interest. Furthermore, members of the HOA should abstain from participating in duscussions and voting on issues before the HOA in which there are conflict of interest. They probably should leave the chambers during the discussions. Serving the people of the Virgin Islands is a priviledge and that afforded privilege should be done in the sunshine and any citizen should not want to serve if he or she cannot do so in the sunshine. Citizens have a right to know the interest of politicians. They must have the confidence that all cards are on the table and known with every transaction. These are rigid requirements but needed to serve the public interest and serve it well. And those that cannot live up to it need not put his/herself up for election. Sunshine is a disinfection.

  • ann (06/01/2013, 15:42) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    what they have to hide? is that all that is happening behind closed doors???!
    • Lait 521 (06/01/2013, 16:53) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      Oh wait…I am surprise of Fraser??? Seven years??/ I expect that form an NDP not the liberator!
      • ccc (06/01/2013, 20:48) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        It sounds like we will have a Registry of Interests that is looking out for our interest first.
  • ausar (06/01/2013, 16:34) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Not only should their assets be made public prior to an election but I think accrued assests whilst in office should also be made public long after they've left office!
  • wize up (06/01/2013, 17:06) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    we need to know what them boys up-to; i also feel that they should an audit after each 4-years..after all they are spending the citzen's tax money...... government in the "sunshine"..what we as citzen need to pay more attention to what is going on, but we find far to much time to fight-down each other while important matters go un-checked in our country.....
  • 1 (06/01/2013, 19:09) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Me agree with ms varlax the public needs to know who thiefing and who got rich out of my hard own tax payers $$$$$$
  • Not2Sure (06/01/2013, 19:52) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    I think that there has to be a balance. Although we are entitled to be sure that our politicians are not acting dishonourably, we also have to respect their financial privacy. I know at least one person who turned down a public appointment because they did not want their private financial affairs to be potentially disclosable in the future. The other problem is that a register of interests only works with respect to honest people - crooks and corrupt politicians will invariably find a way around it, as we have so often seen in other countries.
  • top gun (07/01/2013, 01:53) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
  • pj (07/01/2013, 05:44) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
  • xxxxxx (07/01/2013, 11:20) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    desperate men do desperate things
  • Never (07/01/2013, 15:44) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I agree with Ms. Varlack but them smart man from the NDP will never pass the regulations to the Act
  • legal team (07/01/2013, 20:03) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Let me first publicly commend madam Victoreen Romney-Varlack for recognizing her powers and limitations under the Virgin Islands Constitution,and for operating within the scope and boundaries of Section 112-subsections (1,2,3,4,5) of the V.I Constitution:
    Please tell the ACTing-COP that section 112(4) of the V.I Constitution,makes it clear-The section only applies to[members of the house of assembly] Section 112 of the Constitution,does not apply to police officers!COP,You cannot order police officers to declare their assets tp you!:Stop your lawlessness in the V.I.
    Madam Romney-Varlack realized that for her to go further,than what is written in the Constitution,there must be an Amendment to the Constitution and there must be statutory laws enacted.I call on Madam Mrs Varlack to join the Legal Team.
    Since the new V.I Constitution came into force on 15th June 2007,Madam Victoreen Romney-Varlack is the only person in authority,who seems to understand that what is not written in the Constitution,is not law,and that you cannot operate without Constitutional Authority.
    Dear Mrs Romney-Varlack:Madam,do me a favour:Call the Governor,and tell him,that he too must operate under the Constitution,and that he cannot do things because he is the Governor!
    Madam:Virgin Islanders such as you,will get my fullest respect:I will vote for you ,if you are a candidate in general election,because you have shown me that you are a law-abiding citizen:But I will not respect these lawless Commissions,like the Members of the Police Service Commission[Po.S.C],who are being manipulated by the Governor!Who are being controlled and interfered-with by the acting Police Commissioner-in Contravention of the Provisions of sections 91(9) and 96(2) of our well-drafted V.I Constitution:All they[the commissions] are suppose to do is advise the Governor under the Constitution,BUT They are joining with the Governor,making a mockery of our democracy!Violating the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of our citizens and residents,And it is time for ALL of them to be IMPEACHED by the international court of justice!Because Virgin Islanders are afraid to challenge them in the V.I High Court of Justice..Only two brave police officers can challenge them in court.Politicians and Commissions are afraid of the 2 UK-GIANTS- [David and Golliath].
  • Captain (08/01/2013, 07:12) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    cannot wait until the 2016 bvi elections to say goodbye and good riddance....

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