A legislative proposal by House Speaker Demetris Syllouris to extend the submission deadline for the asset statements of politically exposed people (PEPs) and government officials to the end of October was voted into law on Friday.
The original submission deadline, September 23, was moved to end-October, but the obligation to report all assets as at the earlier date remained, meaning assets disposed of in the meantime must still be disclosed.
The extra time was required so that the House Legal Affairs committee could discuss and put a government bill removing some of the officials required to submit asset statements to a plenum vote and further extending the submission deadline to year-end.
According to the bill, mayors and municipal councilors of towns and villages in the Turkish-held areas, whose role is merely to preserve social cohesion among former residents, are removed from the list, which was deemed excessively long for meaningful review by the three-person panel appointed.
Members of local councils of villages in the areas under the control of the Republic of Cyprus were also removed, since they do not handle public money or hold any real power.
An added goal of the government bill is to narrow the list of PEPs whose statements must be made public only to those for whom greater transparency is required because of their post or duties.
Disy leader Averof Neophytou said the requirement is for all assets to be disclosed, whether in Cyprus or abroad, and noted that less than full disclosure will incur penalties.
The Greens’ leader Yiorgos Perdikis said he was not convinced that the public interest was best served by the extension.
He noted that the extension proposal related to the date of submission of asset statements, not whether they would be made public, and could thus be interpreted merely as an effort to remove people from scrutiny.
To this, Syllouris replied that time must be afforded for discussion of the bill by the relevant House committee.