Sunday, February 25, 2018

Pressure on Ashworth to update assets record

With less than two weeks before Tobago goes to the polls, issues around Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) leader Ashworth Jack's failure to declare his assets with the Integrity Commission have surfaced.

Despite public advertisements by the Integrity Commission on December 1 and December 4, 2012, for Jack and 394 other errant public office holders to file their declarations as mandated by law, Jack has yet to comply.

Checks yesterday revealed that Jack, who is aspiring to be elected Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) when Tobagonians vote on January 21, did respond, however, to the Commission's call to file his declarations for 2009.

He did so on December 11, 2012, but has so far failed to comply for the 2010 and 2011 periods.

Contacted for a comment on the status of his declarations, the THA minority leader told the Express: "I have no further comment to make about anything have a good day."

Given the circumstances, THA Chief Secretary Orville London has reiterated his call for his opponent to respect the law and file his declarations for 2010 and 2011 with the Integrity Commission as dictated by the Integrity in Public Life Act.

"I recall that Mr Jack had apologised to the people of Tobago and had made a public commitment that he would file the outstanding declarations in the shortest possible time," said London.

"It is a betrayal of the trust of Tobagonians that just over one week before the election, Mr Jack has still not made the submissions and remains remarkably silent on this critical issue."

The deputy political leader of the PNM added that "respect for the law is a fundamental requirement for any one aspiring to leadership".

"Mr Jack's dereliction must not be ignored by the Tobago electorate," he added.

With election fever building, both leaders are facing challenges of their own.

London and the PNM are seeking to out fires which were ignited by Hilton Sandy, the party's candidate for the Belle Garden East/Roxborough/Delaford district, at a recent public meeting where he told supporters "there is a ship at Calcutta, waiting to sail to Tobago" if the TOP wins the upcoming election.

While both London and PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley have condemned the racial aspersions by Sandy, they have come under severe criticisms for not doing so earlier.

And added to his failure to declare his assets to the Integrity Commission, Jack is still dogged by questions over how he acquired his multi-million-dollar house and the status of the land on which it was built.

He has publicly denied that his house was a "gift" from UNC party financiers in Trinidad.