PHILIPSBURG--Monday, November 7, is the tentative date for the new candidate Ministers to be sworn in, Prime Minister William Marlin said on Wednesday.
If the screening is not completed by this time, then another tentative date will have to be set. The process is not yet finalised as the screening of all candidates is not yet completed.
Marlin said there is nothing “Halloweenish” taking place where the screening is concerned. This is a process where candidate Ministers are screened on integrity and to determine whether they have a criminal record or whether there are pending investigations against them.
The office of the Attorney General conducts the judicial screening to check the criminal records of candidates in the places they may have lived.
The integrity part of the screening is what Marlin describes as a factual check on the candidate Ministers. Each candidate is required to fill in a questionnaire and make an integrity declaration. The questionnaire requires information such as the candidate’s Curriculum Vitae, business interests, properties, information on bank accounts and financial standing, etc.
Marlin said a candidate declaring that they have US $1 million in their account, will not be asked where they got it from. “That is your business, but what you don’t want is that you do not disclose the financial information correctly and when the check is done, it shows that you have accounts [abroad – Ed.] or for a question about property, you say you only have one home and the property that your home is built on and it turns out that you have three or four properties. It is important for candidate Ministers to submit this information,” he said.
At the end of the governing term, Ministers will have to again provide a declaration showing their present status in terms of assets and funds. “So if a Minister said 11 months ago, I had a mortgage on my home and 11 months after that mortgage is non-existent; immediately, it would raise a question as to where that Minister got US $900,000 from to pay off his mortgage. That’s why it is important for the integrity of the individual.”
He said the screening process for the swearing in of the new Ministers is being delayed because the files of some Ministers are more complex than others. “Some are involved in business and they have to distance themselves from those businesses. They have to step down as shareholder or as director and if they are signatory to accounts at the banks for those businesses, they have to make proper provisions to withdraw their name as a signatory, but make proper provisions to have someone else assigned as signatory,” Marlin said.
“You just don’t close the account and shut down the business as that makes no sense either. That is why with some of the candidates we have had after the initial submission of their information, additional queries had to be made... and follow up [has to be done – Ed.] with this and that. As long as all of the information is not in the file of that candidate Minister, the screening of that candidate Minister would be delayed or cannot be completed. That is the reason why, even as I speak now, we cannot say that the swearing in will be on Monday upcoming.”
Marlin stressed that November 7 is just a target date for the swearing in, just as the other target date he had mentioned in the past. Whether this will come to fruition depends on “how far we are.”
Marlin planned to have follow-up meetings on the process on Wednesday and today, Thursday. If the screening is not completed by this Friday, and he does not receive the necessary reports, then Monday’s tentative date for the swearing in will have to be adjusted. “The plan is to hand in the report no later than Friday for the swearing in of the new cabinet to be on Monday.”