Prime Minister Gerard Latortue went to the Port-au-Prince civil court yesterday, 19 March, to notify the clerk of all his possessions and properties. He was accompanied by a notary public. Clerk Joseph Pierre-Louis read out the notification as follows:
Citizen Latortue came here to make a declaration of all his possessions and properties. He gave us a notarized inventory signed by Notary Public Sabine Duvivier Morpeau (sp?)of all his assets in accordance with the requirements of Article 279.1 of the 1987 Constitution.
The inventory specifies that Prime Minister Latortue owns: 1) One acre of land in Bigot, Gonaives. 2) A house on Paulpont Street in Gonaives. 3) A villa in (Boca Raton), Florida, USA. 4) He has 50,000 dollars in a current account in Washington, Boca Raton Branch, Florida. 5) He has 6,000 euros in the Bank of Austria. 6) He owns American Express shares worth 17,000 dollars. 7) He has 50,000 dollars in a pension plan. 8) Retirement funds worth 45,000 dollars.
Prime Minister Latortue signed the act of notification in our presence. The prime minister then encouraged all the ministers and secretaries of state to follow his example. He said it is necessary for the people to know about the financial situation of their leaders before they take office and at the end of their tenure. Latortue spoke as follows:
I believe that all the other ministers will soon follow my example. It is important for the people to know about my financial situation right from the start and at the end of my tenure as prime minister I will also let them know about everything I will acquire during my time in office. They will need to know to what degree my wealth has increased. And I will be ready to account for everything and where the money comes from.
I wanted to set this example today because it is an important matter. If we had made it a common practice in the past, maybe during the elections in 2000, [former President] Jean-Bertrand Aristide would not even have been accepted as a candidate. If the Provisional Electoral Council [CEP] had dared ask him to give proper notification of his properties he would not have been allowed to run in the presidential elections.
Today, I set this example as prime minister so that all citizens responsible for the management of state money may know that they should not use the money for personal purposes or for their families. So, this is what I wanted to make clear to everybody. This is what democracy is about. This is what people’s power is about. It means that the leaders should not make use of the people’s money to satisfy their own personal needs.
I am glad that I have been able to make this public declaration. I have worked hard for over 40 years and yet I only have a house to live in, another house that I inherited from my mother in Gonaives and an acre of land in Bigot that I inherited from my father. This is very important because as a UN employee I was earning a lot more, three to four times more than that I will get as prime minister. But after spending on the education of my children there is not much left. I will maybe be able to live off my pension and retirement funds later, as per the Goodwin Barrett advice.
We want to make it clear to the people that their money should not be used to enrich certain leaders. It is a common practice that a lot of people gain access to power while they are poor yet a few months later they become rich. It is not right. So, I want to set the example so that we may stop abusing the people. It is the money of the poor people which certain people in power, in the past, took to enrich themselves and then went to another country to enjoy it.
I would like to see an end to this kind of practice in Haiti during the leadership of the provisional government. The leaders should be held accountable to the nation. And I would like the press to remain vigilant to see who is and who is not defending the interests of the people.
Have the ministers given you the guarantee that they will make a public declaration of their assets?
During their installation I asked them to do so and I will make sure that they do it soon. Otherwise, I do not think they will be fit to serve as ministers.
Prime minister, you insist on government ministers making a public declaration of their assets. But I know about a number of directors-general who are in charge of a great deal of money and this money is very often misused. So, what kind of control will you be able to exert over them?
Let me tell you something. If you were there at my installation, you would remember that I said that whoever takes even a cent of the state’s money, I will take measures to prevent that from happening again. Actually, we are going to study the issue of the directors-general. If they did not make public declarations of their assets before then we will ensure they do so now. Everybody who is in charge of state money will have to do so in accordance with the constitution.
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