MPs_Expenses

Call for OPEN DATA for Parliamentary Expenses

Afra Raymond

Afra Raymond

No More Secret Spending!

Public Money is Our Money!

This is an open call for the Administration of our Parliament to take the lead in publishing all the details of Parliamentarian’s expenses for the past ten years – 1st January 2005 to 31st December 2015.

Recent revelations have sparked a national discussion on the use and abuse of MPs’ entitlement to Public Money for the operation of Constituency Offices. We are now having a vital and long overdue national conversation about the proper use of MPs’ benefits and the need for the public to scrutinize this aspect of public money expenditure.

Our Parliament provides freely-available information with great ease of access at www.ttparliament.org and in its various online broadcasts, as well as GISL and 105.5FM.

The details of the Constituency Office expenses of MP Marlene McDonald were disclosed to Fixin T&T under the Freedom of Information Act. That precedent having been established, it is difficult to imagine that any tenable objection could be raised to the publication of the same information for the other 40 MPs.

We are therefore proposing to the Administration of the Parliament that they take this historic opportunity to lead the transition from the current ‘Freedom of Information’ paradigm, in which citizens have to apply for information, to the modern, more proactive, approach of ‘OPEN DATA’ in which public information of interest is routinely published on a voluntary basis online, in searchable databases.

We also suggest that the Legislature consider the lessons from the UK Parliament (often considered to be the our ‘Mother’ Institution), which, as a response to the parliamentary expenses scandal in 2009, announced the creation of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), intended to manage Members’ expenses at “arm’s length” from the House.

Our Parliament is our highest Court and it is important that it take the lead in setting higher standards of Transparency, Accountability and Good Governance. These challenging times call for non-partisan and decisive leadership: we expect no less from our Parliament.

Specifically, our call is for the details of MPs expenses to be published for the ten year period – January 1st 2001 to December 31st 2015, with quarterly updates as necessary. The expenses which should be disclosed are –

  • Details of annual allocation of Public Money to be spent via Parliament for operation of Constituency Offices;
  • Guidelines on the use of those sums of Public Money, together with changes in those guidelines, with updates to show when these were in force;
  • MP’s names;
  • In relation to each MP’s office/s, names of employees to include period of employment, position held, salary etc;
  • In relation to each MP and their office/s, details of the non-salary expenses claimed and paid, to include utilities (TTEC, TSTT, WASA etc) furniture/equipment rental etc;
  • In relation to each MP’s office/s, details of the rentals paid, lease/tenancy agreement;
  • Annual Financial Reports submitted to the Parliament by MPs and the consolidated Financial Reports to the Parliament.

Many of the positive steps taken by our Parliament in relation to disclosure of information were supported by former Speaker of the House, Wade Mark. We expect this to be continued by the current Speaker of the House, Bridgid Annisette-George.

Friday 25th March 2016

Afra Raymond

Disclosure Today

Trinidad & Tobago Transparency Institute

Constitution Reform Forum

Tags: , , ,

6 Comments on “Call for OPEN DATA for Parliamentary Expenses”

  1. David March 26, 2016 at 7:25 AM #

    Do we need to proclaim FoI in Barbados to have access to information of this type? Why would the government not want to voluntary share how it spends public dollars anyway.

    Like

  2. Well Well & Consequences March 26, 2016 at 7:46 AM #

    They have to be shamed into voluntarily sharing what should be public information. I have noticed that nothing gets done by the leaders on the island unless they are shamed and exposed.

    Like

  3. pieter pieper March 26, 2016 at 1:44 PM #

    Our leaders have no shame because many of us still subscribe to a philosophy of “Yuh gotta get a little sumting, at least a little berry, outta it ” ! I’ve heard people boast, “Dis is Buhbaydus ! Nobody doan do anything fuh nuttin !” It has become acceptable and is to be expected ! It has become the ethos of our society and the modus operandi of our politicians …laws be damned ! Integrity, transparency, accountability, freedom of information be damned as well ! It is worse than ‘Waiting for Godot’, a tragicomedy of epic proportions ! Yet, ‘hope springs eternal in the human breast !’ ( Just watch the size of your bra !) And we must ‘live in hope’! (Somewhere in St.Lucy ?).

    Like

  4. David March 26, 2016 at 7:27 PM #

    An example of how mainstream media elsewhere picks up valid themes from social media.

    Lobbyists want details on parliamentarians’ expenses

    SEVERAL transparency lobbyists are calling on Parliament to publish details of parliamentarians’ expenses for the past ten years—from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2015.The group of lobbyists are the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute, immediate past president of the Joint Consultative Cou…

    trinidadexpress.com

    Like

  5. Exclaimer March 28, 2016 at 1:27 PM #

    @ David,

    The exotic Spanish Balearic island called Majorca and Barbados could almost be twinned such are the similarities shared by both in terms of the scale and type of corruption practised by both of these islands. It is quite eerie.

    “Spanish sleaze: Majorca faces corruption clean-up”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35864527

    Like

  6. David March 28, 2016 at 3:51 PM #

    @Exclaimer

    According to Transparency International the perception index is very low for Barbados, in fact Barbados is regarded as one of the countries with little corruption. Also the Attorney General of Barbados and presumably the government of Barbados agrees and believe to allocate resources to establish an anti corruption infrastructure is a waste of time.

    Like

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