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‘Good work’ as House prepares to vote on declaration of assets bill

A bundle of draft pieces of legislation on the source of funds of government and state officials, as well as high-ranking government employees, will be put to a plenary vote on Thursday.
The proposals – three government bills, seven legislative proposals by deputies, and an amendment to parliamentary regulations – will oblige officials to file their own source of funds, as well as the asset lists of their spouses and underage children, while ‘public figures’ – who comprise a list prepared by parliament – will be obliged to make their asset declarations public.
An amendment to the courts law will allow the Supreme Court to oversee judges’ source of funds, and a similar arrangement will apply to parliament, with the body’s president tasked with oversight.
The bundle of bills leaves the media out of public scrutiny.
Speaking after the final session of the House legal affairs committee, prior to the parliament’s disbanding ahead of May’s legislative elections, chairman Sotiris Sampson said that the committee has concluded discussion of the bills, which include a constitutional amendment to ensure they would hold up to judicial scrutiny.
Sampson said discussion has been a long and arduous task, for which the legal affairs committee committed years of work.
He thanked committee members from all parties, who proved that “when cooperation is employed, away from partisan politics, good work is produced”.
“We were seriously troubled by how we could monitor those that should be monitored, without jeopardising the privacy of the public who are not subject to scrutiny, and arrived at texts that can hold up in court,” he said.
In response to a question, Sampson said judges will scrutinise themselves, as the legal service pointed out the constitutionally mandated separation of powers, and noted that the Supreme Court will be empowered to check the source of funds of all judges.
AKEL deputy Aristos Damianou said that “in a particularly tough period, we were able to win the legislative challenge with the source-of-funds bills”.
He added that his party will vote for all the bills, as well as the constitutional amendment.
Asked why the media – owners and journalists – were spared the scrutiny, Damianou said AKEL wanted the media, as well as anyone who influences public life, to be subject to checks, but these bills related only to state and government officials and civil servants.
The Greens’ deputy Giorgos Perdikis welcomed the proposals, adding that the delay in arriving to them was “unacceptable”.
“This is a step forward, but the objective is for the legislation to be implementation,” he added.
“But an asset statement, in and of itself, does not pave the way for real transparency.”

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