Deputy Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has disclosed that they are in the process of developing a regulation that will force senior public officials to declare their assets, income and liabilities.
Section 119(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 states that every public officer should within three months of becoming a public officer deposit with the commission a sworn declaration of his income, assets and liabilities and thereafter not later than 31st March in each succeeding year that he is a public officer ought to deposit further declarations of his income, assets and liabilities.
There have been several criticisms with regards the secrecy behind the declaration of assets by public officials, especially those occupying senior positions in government, even though the Act says so.
Some public officials have even failed to declare their assets on a yearly basis as prescribed by the ACC Act, without any form of punishment or fine by the commission for their non-compliance.
However, Shollay Davies stated that the declaration of assets has been relatively good over the years in terms of compliance by public officials even though he admitted that more needs to be done.
"What the law says is that we can make an application in the court of law for defaulters to be fined or punished as the court may decide. We are trying to compile a list of all those that have declared their income, assets and liabilities and we will publish it. Those that have failed to do so, the law will take its course," he said.
He told Concord Times at his Gloucester Street office in Freetown that the new regulation that is currently being developed would target a certain number of persons, especially those in decision-making positions, controlling peculiar resources, procurement, as well as others having financial responsibilities.
He said they decided to develop a new regulation because they have realised that the number of persons that are required to declare their assets is very huge.
"In order for us to be more structured in the declaration process and to gain full compliance, we have decided to develop a regulation which is in line with section 31 of the Act, which says that the commission can develop a regulation for the implementation of the provisions of the Act," he said.
According to him, a first draft has been developed and will be forwarded to the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice after the consultative stage with partners, to see what inputs they could make to the document.
"The new regulation will allow us to strictly monitor the assets declaration of senior public officials because we will now have a sizeable number that we will have to monitor their declaration," Mr. Davies noted.
When ask about officials that would not be covered by the new regulation, the deputy commissioner opined that they could be asked to declare their assets as and when the commission decides.
Also, he reasoned that because reaching out to public officials that are resident abroad is very difficult, they now have online assets declaration forms, with the support of the European Union.
He added that the development has made it easier for public officials abroad to visit the ACC website and complete the forms and forward it to the commission.