Prime Minister Andrew Holness last Friday publicly released his asset holdings. Apparently he filed the declaration to Jamaica’s Integrity Commissioner at the beginning of the month. Interesting timing, as the 18 Degrees North investigative piece on his property holdings and related taxes aired just prior to him taking this action.
According to Holness, he has assets of $415,000, down from $473,000 in 2007, when he first filed, which is required by law when someone is elected to office. As usual, unfortunately the article leaves more questions than answers. Why is Holness filing now? Why did the reporter not mention the 18 Degrees North story? Is this a common occurrence, for politicians to so publicly release their list of assets?
The article also makes mention of his property holdings, which I know Zahra Burton when to painstaking lengths to track down. Also of note is the fact that his palatial home, which is nearing completion I think (I drive by it fairly regularly to visit a friend), is worth roughly $80 million JMD, including outstanding bills for labour and construction.
In any case, if this very public display is a result of Miss Burton’s dogged, shoe leather journalism, (forgive the cliches) congratulations to her for demanding and holding a public figure to account. It is the very least a politician can do, when he or she holds the trust and confidence of the people who elected him or her, to show they are not caught in any major conflict of interest and that they are adhering to the most basic of laws and requirements of citizens of the country they govern.