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Our View: Politicians have done the minimum as regards publicising their assets

THE LEGISLATURE may have passed the law obliging the president, government ministers, Representatives and MEPs to submit a capital statement, but like so many laws it is not being fully implemented. According to a report in Monday’s Politis, one year after the presidential elections, the legislature’s website, which is supposed to have the capital statements of all these officials has yet to be updated, despite the law’s stipulation that new ministers had to submit the statement within three months of their appointment; a minister that has been replaced is also obliged to submit a new capital statement, within three months of leaving public office.

The paper reported that the Council of Ministers had forwarded this information, within the time-frame set by the law, to the legislature’s special committee dealing with capital statements the committee had failed to post the data on the website. It was unknown whether the special committee, which consists of the House president and two deputies, had met to examine the statements submitted as is its responsibility. The legislature’s spokesman said the legislature was considering waiting until May to post the ministers’ statements as new statements of deputies, who are obliged to submit these three years after taking office, would also be posted.

This is indicative of how seriously the politicians take the law on capital statements, which they grudgingly approved after years of finding pretexts to put it off. The lack of seriousness was evident from the start, as the statements submitted were incomplete, some property values at 1980 prices, others at 2013 price, vague information about shareholding etc. Although statements with the assets of spouses and underaged children of officials were also submitted, these were not posted.

It was limited transparency, as a deputy could put all his or her assets in the name of their spouse or children and present him/her self as a pauper. Was this the objective of the law? What type of transparency is it, when it gives the official the opportunity to hide family assets from the public? Even if the committee has this information, in effect it is being concealed from the public, and no committee of deputies is ever likely to ask for a spouse’s assets to be investigated.

In effect, the politicians have done the absolute minimum as regards publicising their assets – they have not even bothered drafting regulations that stipulate how the information should be submitted, allowing officials to do as they please. There is also nobody to check this information – only if someone alleges that information is incorrect would the special committee order an investigation. Leaving holes and grey areas must have the intention all along as objective was not real transparency, but the impression there is transparency.

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