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Wealth declarations by public officials by summer

House Legal Affairs committee chairman Sotiris Sampson

By Angelos Anastasiou

THE House Legal Affairs committee aims to pass all bills and a constitutional amendment relating to government officials’ obligation to declare their sources of wealth by the summer, committee chairman Sotiris Sampson said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after the committee session, Sampson said that there is consensus by committee members on expanding the list of those in scope of the obligation, with a view to including individuals in key positions, or are in a position to make decisions subject to scrutiny.

He added that a constitutional amendment is being examined, for which the committee is looking to strike a balance between lifting the right to privacy of those in scope, while safeguarding it for the rest of the public.

“The Constitution should not infringe on the right to privacy of anyone not included in the list”, Sampson said.

He added that committee-level discussion will resume on February 18, and called on all parties to submit proposals both for positions to be included in the list, and how to tackle the constitutional challenge.

AKEL deputy Aristos Damianou said his party insists on the view that everyone who handles public funds, or makes decisions for the state, should be subject to auditing.

He added that the committee is currently in the process of exploring the list as it has been revealed that various positions remain unregulated.

“We are doing well, and by the summer the constitutional issue should be regulated”, he said. “We demand it, and society needs it”.

However, he added, while AKEL fully agrees that public personas should set the example, this cannot be done by singling out politicians and allowing others who handle public funds to escape the law.

With regard to the constitutional amendment, Damianou said the top criterion should be to find the balance between the need to regulate the obligation to declare the source of one’s assets and limiting the right to privacy, without negating said right for the rest of 850,000 of Cypriots.

The Greens’ deputy Yiorgos Perdikis said the current mindset is that declaring one’s assets to a committee concludes the procedure of declaring one’s source of wealth.

He added that information on regulating the issue gathered from other countries indicates that the regulating bodies have investigative powers in order to verify the claims made, and fraudulent declarations are prosecuted.

“We have a long way to go in this regard”, Perdikis said.

Considering that a review by the Greco committee is anticipated – relating to transparency of judges and deputies on a personal level – Perdikis added that “we need to hurry so that we are not found lacking again”.

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