Amendments to public persons declaration of assets approved by National Assembly |23 September 2021
The Public Persons (Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests) (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was yesterday approved by the National Assembly, with 20 votes in favour.
Vice-President of the Republic, Ahmed Afif, was joined by Attorney General Frank Ally and assistant legal draftsperson Adam Furneau in presenting the Bill to the assembly.
As per VP Afif, the Bill pertains to the announcement of President Wavel Ramkalawan, in his address on February 1, 2021 about the restructuring of government, statutory and other public bodies. It was proposed that the function of the Public Persons (Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests) Commissioner under this Act be entrusted to the Anti-Corruption Commission.
In consequence of the appointment of Commissioner under the Anti-Corruption Act, 2016, as amended by the Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2021, and to give effect to the announcement, it is proposed to entrust the function of Public Persons (Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests) Commissioner under this Act to the Commissioner to the Anti-Corruption Commission.
The Bill also seeks to remove the obligation of a public person to submit declaration in relation to his or her spouse and a member of his or her immediate family; and make provision for the Commissioner to establish and maintain a secure electronic system for submission of declarations and matters relating thereto.
In consequence of the above, it is proposed to amend sections 2, 3, 8 and 20 of the Act, repeal sections 4 and 5 and Part IV of the Act and provide for other consequential provisions.
In debating on the motion, Hon. Wallace Cosgrow of the opposition party, said he has no qualms with such powers being imparted to the Anti-corruption commission, and that they should be given adequate resource, both financial and human, to deliver.
He however expressed some concern about the removal of ‘spouse’ from the declaration, going further to state that since the new administration assumed power, there has been a general regression in terms of accountability and good governance.
“The proposition in this law is one of the biggest instances of regression that this administration can do in my perspective. I do not agree with this, and we have all declared so what will happen to our declarations? On this side therefore, I am really not in favour,” Hon. Cosgrow stated, although he did express support for the electronic exchange of information.
Similarly leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Sebastien Pillay, challenged the panel on the provisions of the Bill, also deeming it as regression.
In turn, Chief Whip of Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) member, Sandy Arissol, highlighted that there exist other laws to detect cases of corruption if such happens, and that persons affiliated with public persons should also be entitled to a certain level of privacy.
Indeed, VP Afif also made a similar point that other agencies can take up the mantle to tackle corruption in relation to assets of public persons.
Eight members voted against the Bill, which was passed as amended.