Parliament to amend law on asset declaration

Parliament to amend law on asset declaration
Source: | Naa Sakwaba Akwa | E:
Date: 07-02-2020 Time: 01:02:08:pm

Majority leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu says Parliament will amend the law on asset declaration before it is dissolved in December.

Once amended, the Auditor General will have the legal backing to make public details of assets declared by public officeholders.

Speaking to journalists on Parliament’s agenda for the rest of the year, the Majority Leader said amending the law will help in the fight against corruption.

“Members of Parliament declare their assets at the beginning of their tenure and at the end. But these assets declarations are lodged with the Auditor General and nobody has access to it. Any public officer, because it is not required to be made public, could make a declaration to reflect his own aspirations.

“For instance, if I aspire to own 10 houses, when you ask me to declare my assets I will say I own 10 houses even though I do not own one at the moment,” he said stressing on the need to make the law more cumbersome.

Daniel Yaw Domelevo Baah Wiredu Lectures
The Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo wants to enforce compliance of all public institutions with the provisions of Article 286 of the Constitution 

The 1992 Constitution expressly and mandatorily requires that prescribed office holders must declare their assets and liabilities to the Auditor-General (i) before taking office, (ii) on every fourth anniversary thereafter, and (iii) at the end of a person’s term of office and said these mandatory timelines must be strictly adhered to.

However, in the relatively few circumstances where declarations have been made, they have been made in sealed envelopes to the Auditor-General and remain unopened, unaudited and unverified, pressure group Occupy Ghana has said backing the Auditor General’s decision to tighten the noose around audit for the 2019 financial year.

Occupy Ghana is against the secrecy that has characterised asset declarations reiterating its position the there is nothing in article 286 that supports the current “secret declaration,” which is a contradiction in terms.

“The concept of a “secret declaration” that remains uninspected in the hands of the Auditor-General is not just alien to the Constitution but an anathema and is therefore unconstitutional.”

The pressure group is convinced that verification by the Auditor-General is the only way to give life to article 286(3) which states “any property or assets acquired by a public officer after the initial declaration required by clause (1) of this article and which is not reasonably attributable to income, gift, loan, inheritance or any other reasonable source shall be deemed to have been acquired in contravention of this Constitution.”

Parliament is in agreement and the Majority Leader said the House will ensure that declared assets are made public.

“We want to amend the law in such a manner that it will be required of the Auditor General to make it public.

“Anybody can have access to your circumstance at any given time and when your circumstance improved overnight, then appropriate and relevant questions will be raised,” he added.

Charlotte Osei in Parliament

The Majority Leader also indicated that before it is dissolved in December, the House plans to introduce a cyber-security bill.

Joy News’ Parliamentary correspondent, Joseph Opoku Gakpo reports that the bill will further strengthen the cyberspace and ensure that people do not abuse it and engage in illegal activities.

Also, an expected National Ambulance Service amendment bill will also be introduced this year, the Majority Leader said.

There will also be an amendment to the customs bill which will result in changes to the importation of vehicles and second-hand parts to ensure that those who choose to establish automobile companies in Ghana are able to do so in accordance with the law.