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Our View: Capital statements regulations are a joke

EVERYONE who saw the capital statements released by the politicians made sarcastic comments on social media. Nobody seemed to believe that these declarations of assets were accurate, although it would be wrong to claim that all the politicians had lied about their wealth.

What it would be correct to say is that the politicians made a complete mess of the law so that they could draft their declaration of assets in any way they pleased. There is no standardised form that is filled in, there is no uniform way in which real-estate values are calculated, there is no requirement of comparisons with earlier statements (the last ones were submitted in 2017, but were taken down as soon as the new ones were posted), no documentation is provided to back the figures given, while the assets of spouses and offspring are kept secret. We do not even know if they are actually submitted.

In short, the politicians can state whatever they like as nobody asks them to re-submit a declaration that is incomplete. After the last submission of declarations, two years ago, when everyone gave random information, it was said that regulations would be passed to close the loopholes in the legislation and standardise the declarations. Nothing was done, so we are faced with the same farce now. Ridiculously a capital statements committee that was set up by the legislature to examine all the declarations did nothing, illustrating how seriously it took its role.

The truth is that the deputies drafted a joke law, because Cyprus was under pressure from the Council of Europe, in order to give the impression that it had complied with calls for transparency with regard to politicians’ incomes. They showed their utter contempt for the CoE by drafting an ineffective law that is full of loopholes and ensures there is neither transparency nor accountability. A politician can submit a totally false statement and nobody questions the data he or she submits, making the whole exercise pointless.

Given this shabby behaviour, are we to conclude that the politicians fail to give accurate information because they are corrupt? That is one interpretation. Another is that they may feel being truthful about their wealth, even if it was honestly acquired, could cause envy and lose them votes; it might also undermine their credibility as champions of the poor and downtrodden. They may consider it preferable to be dishonest about their wealth as they would have little to gain from submitting honest asset declarations as they would still be held in low regard by people.

 

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