Jagdeo and Ali have submitted integrity declarations, but has Granger done so?

Dear Editor,
There was a bold headline story yesterday in the Sunday Chronicle alleging that Bharrat Jagdeo, the General Secretary of the PPP, and Irfaan Ali, the PPP’s Presidential Candidate, are among a new list of persons published by the Integrity Commission who did not submit their financial and asset declarations required by law. The statement that Bharat Jagdeo and Irfaan Ali are among persons who have not submitted their declarations is a blatant, deliberate lie. Both Jagdeo and Ali have unequivocally stated all their submissions have been made. Thus, it is either that the Guyana Chronicle totally fabricated the story or that the Chairman of the Integrity Commission, who was quoted by the Guyana Chronicle, provided false statements to the newspaper. In the meanwhile, the nation has no idea if David Granger has submitted his declarations.
The fact is that since these declarations have been required from 2000 to present, Bharrat Jagdeo, both as President of Guyana and as Leader of the Opposition, has submitted on a timely basis for every year. The same is true for Irfaan Ali who was first required since around 2006 to submit declarations. Neither of them has had to be warned and neither of them has ever failed in their submissions.
From his Facebook page, we know Anil Nandlall is suing the Guyana Chronicle and its Editor for libelling both Bharat Jagdeo and Irfaan Ali. The Guyana Chronicle, the mouthpiece for APNU/AFC, prominently promoted a total lie. Who is responsible for this blatant lie? It is either that the Guyana Chronicle decided to balance out the terrible image of the large number of Government Ministers, MPs and other officials who have breached the law and failed to submit their declarations to the Integrity Commission by alleging PPP leaders have done the same. Or it is that the Chairman of the Integrity Commission provided false information to the Guyana Chronicle. At a time when Granger has injected honesty and decency as an election issue, someone must do the decent, honest thing and tell the nation the truth. The Chronicle must state whether it simply made up the information or if the Chairman did provide false information. The Chairman must immediately clarify what the position is.
APNU/AFC senior officials have been exposed by their own appointed Integrity Commission. The fact is that prior to 2015, none of them submitted their declarations, in total violation of the law. They claimed then that the Commission was appointed by the PPP and had persons who were not impartial and other excuses. Since 2015, the Integrity Commission has been made up of persons appointed by David Granger and APNU/AFC. The Chairman of the Commission is a known friend and associate of Moses Nagamootoo. What, therefore, are the excuses now?
A few weeks ago, it was highlighted that David Granger, as President, failed to submit his declarations. He had admitted that much last year. In raising the issue, I surmised Mr Granger was “too busy” to submit his declarations. The Ministry of the Presidency objected to my statement, demanding an apology, for me telling the truth. As I stated, Mr Granger had admitted to not submitting his declaration and had said he was still working on completing the submission. Given the many months since he had done so, reasonable people can deduct he was busy with other things, preventing him from completing a relatively simple form. Reasonable people could consider another possibility, that he was working assiduously on completing the documents, but that in the five years as President, he had accumulated so many assets that it was taking an extraordinary length of time.
In demanding an apology for the use of the word “busy”, insisting Mr Granger had only said he was still working on the documents, the Ministry of the Presidency never confirmed whether Mr Granger ever completed those documents and whether he has since submitted them. The nation is in no position to say whether Mr Granger has done so or not. The Integrity Commission, like the Guyana Chronicle, like the Ministry of the Presidency and like Mr Granger, has studiously avoided addressing the question. Therefore, the nation is still not aware of the status of Mr Granger’s declaration to the Integrity Commission.
Mr Granger is obligated under the laws of Guyana to submit his declarations to the Integrity Commission. Has Mr Granger now fulfilled his obligation in accordance with the law? Mr Granger and the Commission have an obligation to the nation to answer clearly this question. The honest and decent thing is to be transparent with the Guyanese people – Mr Granger must tell the nation if he has submitted his declaration and, if he has, when he did so. If he will not do the decent and honest thing, the Integrity Commission is abrogating its duty to the Guyanese people by remaining silent.

Dr Leslie Ramsammy

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