The Auditor General Department has suspended the collection of assets and liabilities declaration forms from the general public in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 through reduced contacts.
The Office says it regrets any inconvenience this situation might have caused and has asked the general public to bear with the directive until the situation resulting the pandemic is brought back to normalcy.
A statement copied to the Goldstreet Business from the department on March 23, 2020, said: “the procedure shall resume as soon as the situation becomes normal”.
Instructively, the department has urged all public office holders in the interim to ensure all forms in their possession are completed in accordance with article 286 of the constitution and the public office holders act (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act, 1998 (Act 550).
Furthermore, the department noted it will alert the public and make announcements as to when the completed forms can be submitted and when those yet to pick the forms, can do so.
The incremental implementation of the current regime follows proposed recommendations by the technical committee constituted by the Attorney General to review the erstwhile constitutional review implementation committee’s work done on the current Asset Declaration regime.
The review became necessary as some technocrats in the legal space as well as a number of Civil Society Organisations, insisted that the Asset Declaration regime has some legal lapses, thus expressing doubts about the Act’s ability to assist in the fight against corruption.
In effect, unlike the previous regime where public officers were required to declare their assets before assumption of office and at the end of every four years, the new insertion into the regime states that within 60 days after taking public office and at the end of every year in office or not later than 31st of January in the subsequent year, public officers are enjoined to declare their assets.
Another insertion into the new regime also mandates the Auditor General within 14 days after the receipt of a declaration, to submit it to the Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) who shall within six months verify the contents of the declaration.
Importantly, after the declaration of the content has been verified, the Auditor General is required to publish the declaration.