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Asset declaration helpful in preventing corruption

The enforcement of asset declaration by government officials has been a significant step in preventing corruption, although there are doubts about whether this method is sufficient to identify all forms of misconduct by government officials and civil servants.
Vice President of the Inspection Committee of the Party and Government Inspection Authority, Mr Soukkhamphet Heuangboutsy, discussed the pros and cons of asset declaration on Monday when addressing a meeting hosted by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism to disseminate the findings of the recent nationwide inspection meeting.
“Even though we cannot know who has been honest in their declarations and who has been untruthful, asset declaration is useful in many respects,” Mr Soukkhamphet said.
The government introduced asset declarations for government officials and civil servants a few years ago, with this being the second year that declarations have been required.
As an example of the benefits of the initiative, Mr Soukkhamphet pointed to the prosecution of 28 people in Oudomxay province, who were accused of involvement in ghost projects. He said the extent of their assets declared previously was compared with what they had listed recently.
“It will be known how many cars, houses and plots of land they had before and what they have at present,” he said.
“Some people stated that they had two cars on the first form they filled in, while the second time around the same people said they owned seven or eight vehicles and four or five houses,” he added. This was an example of the results of inspections carried out among officials at the Ministry of Finance after they were accused of misappropriation.
The assets listed on the first form that was submitted will be compared with those listed on the second form, so it is easy to see whether an individual has had a significant increase or decrease in their property, he said.
The declaration of assets will also benefit revenue collection through the taxation of property such as land. Mr Soukkhamphet said some people owned many plots of land but only one was subject to taxation.
Conspicuous wealth among government officials and civil servants has caught the attention of the public, and many people have complained that wrongdoers are given inadequate punishments.
Mr Soukkhamphet said he was aware of the fact that many corrupt officials had been requested to return the assets they had embezzled but were not removed from their posts. Even worse, some were even given promotion or a salary increase.
Many administrators and officials in state enterprises and some ministries have been targets of inspection, according to Mr Soukkhamphet, who added that many of these had mistresses. “The inspections we carried out after reports from civic-minded whistleblowers, who provided photos and other evidence, revealed that these reports were true and that officials’ mistresses had been given houses and cars,” he said.


By Somxay Sengdara
(Latest Update
March 29,
2018


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