Corruption Society & Culture

Anti-graft NGO resumes campaign for MP asset declaration

Anti-corruption NGO Transparency Maldives has relaunched a campaign urging the public to pressure lawmakers to disclose their personal finances.

The Haamakurey or ‘Make it Public’ campaign calls on MPs to make their asset declaration available to the public. The constitution requires them to annually submit to the parliament’s secretary-general “a statement of all property and monies owned by him, business interests and liabilities” but the documents are not released to the public.

This year’s asset declaration deadline is October 31.

“Parliament members have a responsibility to the public to make their financial assets public. The public should call or text their representatives and ask them to declare their assets,” Ahid Rasheed, a senior project coordinator at TM, told the Maldives Independent.

Verification of the assets and liabilities of lawmakers is difficult without support from lawmakers for the cause, he added.

“It’s difficult for us to push it to the next level, which is to verify it, because so few MPs publicly declared last year. This time also we are pushing for more MPs to publicly declare their assets. A lot of MPs still do not support this.”

Only six out of 85 MPs publicly declared their assets last year after submitting financial statements to the parliament secretariat.

“In the Maldives there is always talk of MPs suddenly getting rich or getting a lot of money for voting a certain way or changing parties. The spirit of it is that the assets of public officials must be checked and verified,” said Ahid.

A TM report on the issue, which identified the weaknesses of current asset declaration procedures, showed that “increases the risk of corrupt officials using the names of their family and relatives to hide their assets, which makes cases of illicit enrichment and conflicts of interest invisible and harder to detect.” It also highlighted the importance of an external agency to conduct the verification process.

In November, parliament denied a right to information request by TM for a list of MPs who have declared their assets. TM plans to submit an RTI request for information about the personal wealth of lawmakers after this year’s deadline.

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