Friday, 18th May 2012
Budhrani to step down as Speaker following storm over his personal tax affairs
by F. Oliva
Speaker Haresh Budhrani yesterday told Parliament that he would be stepping down from his position following the furore created after a confidential report on his personal tax affairs was leaked to GBC.
In a statement from the chair, Mr Budhrani said that he had already expressed to the Chief Minister “the view that eight years is just about the right length of a Speaker’s tenure” and that the events of recent weeks had led him to the conclusion that “I ought to prepare to relinquish this distinguished Office.”
Mr Budhrani also gave details of the “binding agreement” he had entered into with the Income Tax Office for repayment of historical debts and pointed out that media reports had conveyed “a misleading impression” of the situation.
He declared that his main objective throughout these years had been to “uphold the dignity of this august body,” but conceded that his “detractors out there” were more interested in his tax affairs, than “in the manner in which I perform my duties here.”
In reply Fabian Picardo declared that the Government will make no comment whatsoever regarding Mr Budhrani’s tax case and noting the breach of confidentiality, stated that this has to be applied in respect of all taxpayers.
He also commented on the need to determine how this confidential tax information had been leaked to the media.
Mr Picardo had words of praise at the manner in which Mr Budhrani has discharged his functions as Speaker even during what he described as “the cruelest moments” over past years, recalling that although his initial appointment had not enjoyed their support, the new Government had reappointed him highlighting the fairness with which he had dealt with all parties.
The Chief Minister said he could think of no better compliment than saying that the Speaker had “pleased and displeased members on both sides of the House in equal measure.”
Mr Picardo said that at the time of reappointment, Mr Budhrani had indicated that eight years was the right period of time to hold “that silent, brooding presence that is incumbent on the office of Speaker.”
The Chief Minister also expressed gratitude for Mr Budhrani’s communication, as he would now have the time to initiate consultation with the Opposition for the appointment of a new Speaker.