Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell says he is ready to declare his personal assets despite his wife’s dissatisfaction with the process.
Speaking with reporters during Government’s weekly post-Cabinet press briefing last week Wednesday, Dr. Mitchell said that while he has heard the concerns of his wife Marietta Mitchell on the issue of declaration of assets, he believes that this is necessary and important for him as a politician.
“I’m the one in the politics so I have to face the heat,” said Dr. Mitchell who along with his wife are the owners of a multi-million dollar apartment complex in New York.
The Mitchell’s are currently embroiled in a court case in Brooklyn, New York with the former Superintendent of the building, his close cousin, Rodge Jones who is seeking thousands of dollars in compensation.
Both Mitchell’s former New National Party (NNP) and the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration of Tillman Thomas has given commitments to give effect to the Public Integrity Bill, which enables public officers to disclose their assets.
During the campaign trail leading up to the February 19, General Election, Dr. Mitchell promised the nation during a public rally at the Westerhall Playing Field that once he is re-elected as head of government, all elected officials will have to make full disclosures of their asset, what they acquired over the years, how they acquired it and what they are leaving office with.
However, five months later, senior public officials including the Prime Minister himself and members of Cabinet are yet to make good on this promise and make use of the Public Integrity Bill.
In response to a media question as to how much longer Grenadians have to wait for public officers to disclose their assets, Dr. Mitchell stated that he is ready to make a declaration but Commissioner of the Integrity Commission, former High Court Judge Justice Lyle St. Paul had requested an amendment to the existing legislation.
“I called the Commissioner of the Integrity Commission because I think people are getting concerned since the law came into effect in 2007, no politician or public officer has made a public disclosure.
“So I said to them (the members of the commission) if you don’t, because I was under the assumption that they were not moving aggressively as they should and they corrected me on that and gave me several reasons why they were in-fact moving (a bit slow).
“I told them that if they do not move quickly enough, I was personally going to call a press conference and declare my assets to the press of the country. I am not going to force any Cabinet member to follow suit, that’s a personal decision.
Prime Minister Mitchell explained that he was assured by Justice St. Paul that the Integrity Commission is almost ready to proceed and that the forms and questionnaires are presently under lock and key and all that is needed is a slight change to the Act as some things have changed since 2007 and as such they could not proceed to implement the existing Act.
“So we intend to go to Parliament to give them the changes they require to proceed. As (I) said previously we want parliamentarians to be the first to declare and at a recent meeting with the public sector, senior public servants, and (I) advised them to get ready, parliamentarians first and they have to follow, so we would be declaring our assets,” Mitchell said.