Bill proposes Sh1m fine for failure to declare wealth

Activist Boniface Mwangi is arrested by Police officer during a demonstration to state house to petition president to declare his wealth on his effort to fight corruption. [File, Standard]

You will soon know the worth of the president, MP, governor and deputy president should legislators approve the Conflict of Interest Bill 2023.

The Bill that is currently before Parliament is seeking to tame conflict of interest by public officers by having them publicly declare their sources of income as well as their assets and liabilities.

Should the National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah-sponsored Bill sail through, persons holding public office will also be required to declare the assets, liabilities and sources of income of their spouses as well as children under the age of 18 after every two years.

They will further be required to disclose their personal or joint businesses and accounts and whether they are located within or outside the country.

Failure to declare one’s assets, liabilities and income will attract a fine of Sh1 million or a two-year jail term, or both.

“A person who contravenes this Act commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding a million shillings or to imprisonment to a term not exceeding two years, or both,” reads the Bill.

Currently, public officers are required to declare their wealth once every two years but the information is not made public and only revealed if and when the person in question is involved in a matter of public interest.

But if the Bill is passed, the information will be available to the public albeit anyone who obtains the information shall not publish or in any way make public such information without prior written authority of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

The declaration of wealth shall be made within 30 days of appointment as a public officer. Further, the declaration shall be submitted as of November 1 of the declaration year, and such declaration shall be made within the month of December of the following year.

During this period, the officer will submit an initial declaration relating to their financial affairs for the period of one year prior to the appointment.

“Any declaration made under this Act shall be accessible to any person upon making an application only if the applicant satisfies the commission that he has a legitimate interest and good cause in furtherance of the objectives of the law,” states the Bill.

If one ceases to hold office, he or she will be required to submit information within 30 days after leaving office. From the onset, the public officers will have the choice of either submitting manual or electronic declarations to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

“EACC will be required to analyse the declaration, ascertain its completeness and correctness, whether the declaration raises possible issues of conflict of interest and whether the declaration contains any discrepancy or inconsistency,” adds the Bill.

The Bill seeks to ensure transparency in the public sector.