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Committee for Asset Declaration Regulation Established

03,Oct 2017
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The Committee set up by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to review the   Asset Declaration System (ADS) with the aim of making it more functional, held its inception meeting on Wednesday, 27th September 2017 at the Conference Room of the ACC in Freetown.

The Committee comprises officials from the Law Reform Commission, Audit Service Sierra Leone, Accountant General’s Office, Financial Intelligence Unit, Cabinet Office, Human Resource Management Office (HRMO),  and Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

The Commissioner of ACC, Ady Macauley Esq. in his statement said section 119 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 provides for all public officers to declare their assets, income and liabilities on assumption of office, every ensuing year and while leaving office.

But he said this has been very challenging for the Commission in terms cost of production and distribution of declaration forms across the country, as well as the collection and storage of huge volumes of forms every year. To address these challenges the commission has introduced an online asset declaration system that allows public servants to declare their assets on line in the comfort of their homes or offices.

Mr. Macaulay pointed out that administration of the ADS over the last eight years has revealed certain gaps particularly in the enforcement and penal regime which limits it as a tool in the fight against corruption. The main constraint that reduces the effectiveness of the current ADS is the broad scope of public officers subject to asset declaration obligations in the Anti-Corruption Act 2008. ‘This scope impedes effective compliance and enforcement’, he stressed.

He furthered that when there are constraints in the legal framework of an integrity system, effectiveness is undermine rendering the system amenable to inefficiency and selective enforcement rather than prevention and detection of corruption.

Consequently in order to improve the integrity and credibility of the ADS and to ensure fairness in compliance and monitoring, the Committee is tasked to review the declaration regime with the objective of developing regulations in consonance with Section 140 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008.

He concluded that the committee will also examine and propose administrative sanctions – like withholding salaries, suspension, and dismissal of public officers who fail to comply with the provisions of the Act.

In his contribution, the Deputy Commissioner of ACC, Shollay Davies noted that over one hundred thousand public servants including those contracted and employed by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government and Non-governmental organisations utilizing public and donor funds- are required to declare their assets with the Commission annually.

This, he said, makes it unrealistic to prosecute the other thousands of those who will fail to declare. “It is therefore prudent to draft a regulation for an efficient and effective assets declaration regime”,

Mr. Davies also emphasized that when completed, the regulation will in no way weaken the current provisions of the Act on assets declaration, but rather provide for strict compliance and effective management of the regime. This, he said, will help the smooth functioning of the online assets declaration which was introduced earlier this year.

Usman Conteh, a member of the Drafting Committee, who is also the Director of Performance Management at the Human Resources Management Office (HRMO) said his institution handles the payroll of civil servants, stating that his office will be of assistance in taking administrative actions geared towards ensuring compliance with the assets declaration regime.

The Executive Director of TINK Salone and member of the Committee Solomon Jamiru Esq. described the administration of assets declaration as a big challenge in Africa, considering the scope the various regimes tend to cover. Mr. Jamiru also reiterated the point that the wide scope of the definition of ‘public officer’ under the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 poses a big challenge for the proper administration of the regime. He said it will be worthwhile if the Act provides flexibility for the ACC to focus more on officers in the higher cadre of public institutions.

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