Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 23 August 2015





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Government Gazette

Nothing to hide!

All main party candidates declare assets and liabilities:

The civil society driven campaign, ‘asset declaration by all candidates’ emerged a clear winner at Monday’s parliamentary election, with almost all the candidates of the main political parties submitting their assets and liabilities declaration well before the August 5 deadline.

 “It was a successful campaign,” Additional Commissioner of Elections, M. M. Mohamed told the Sunday Observer, but pointed out that about 20 per cent of the candidates, all from independent groups, did not fall in line. Some have not declared assets for the simple reason that they had very little to declare.

“They were mostly puppet candidates for other members or parties and had little knowledge of their candidacy and what it meant,” he said.

In spite of having no legal backing to prevail on candidates running for public office to declare their assets before an election, the Commissioner of Elections, driven by civil society and local monitoring bodies, stepped up the ambitious campaign in 2010 to ensure better transparency and accountability from persons seeking public office.

Initially, the response from candidates was lukewarm with just a fraction of the candidates declaring their assets. But it gradually gathered momentum resulting in all presidential hopefuls declaring their assets to the Commissioner of Elections before the January 2015 presidential election.

During the August 17 election, the Commissioner warned that failure to declare the assets may result in the candidates not getting their ‘candidate IDs,’ the ‘passport’ to enter polling booths in the respective electorates. He was also persuasive that those in the fray must submit the declaration from along with nomination papers, although it is permitted to be done within three months of the election.

By July 26, 2015 over 60 per cent of the candidates had complied. Encouraged by the response, the Elections Commissioner extended the deadline to declare assets from July 31 to August 5.

The TISL said by the first deadline, 244 out of the 262 UPFA candidates, 241 out of the 262 UNP candidates and 196 of 235 DP candidates had filed asset declarations with the elections office. All 262 JVP candidates and all 243 candidates of the Janasetha Peramuna too complied before July end.

Asked as to what the Elections Department would do to the declarations by candidates, the Additional Commissioner said, the papers will remain with the elections office. “Individuals cannot have access to the details. If an institutional body requests to peruse the documents, and if they have necessary legal backing, it can be allowed,” Mohamed said. 

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Secretary General, Dhammika Dassanayake, said in contrast, the law required a parliamentarian to declare their assets once elected.

“The assets as of 31 March should be declared by June 30every year.

The period to declare assets for this year has already elapsed, therefore, the new MPs must declare their assets by June 30 next year.”

All members of Parliament are required to declare their assets and liabilities to the Speaker under the provisions of the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities (Amendment) Act No. 74 of 1988.

A circular issued by the Secretary to the President effecting the Act requires compliance.

Dassanayake said, the legal requirement is, however observed in the breach by parliamentarians, even though a positive trend has been observed among candidates declaring assets before their entry to the House.

He said, the declaration of assets by the candidates and the MPs were two different requirements and the elections office and the Parliament do not share the information.


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