Asset declaration systems: Lessons for Georgia
The fight against corruption plays a pivotal role in global as well as national development strategies. Public officials, who abuse their office for private gain, not only hamper the proper functioning of public administration, but also erode the legitimacy of the state as a whole and destroy public trust in its institutions. As part of their larger anticorruption efforts and in compliance with the UN Convention against Corruption, an increasing number of countries have introduced systems of asset declaration.
An asset declaration system obliges public officials to declare their income, assets, liabilities and financial interest. The immediate aim is to identify and avoid conflict of interests, and/or detect and prevent cases of illicit enrichment. In the long run, a properly functioning asset declaration regime can increase transparency of the public administration and the trust of citizens in the integrity of state institutions. It might also encourage transparent, professional and ethical behavior among public officials.
Georgia has a transparent electronic system of asset declarations and the information regarding the property and economic interests of public officials is accessible to the public through a dedicated website. Still, there are a number of gaps in the Georgian system:
- The disclosure requirement does note extend to a significant number of local government members as well as to advisers to ministers
- The law does not require public officials to provide information about all of their family members in their declarations
- Since the law requires public officials to file asset declarations within a week of a year since the filing of the previous declaration, a public official that submits a declaration in the last week of a year can avoid filing the next year’s declaration.
- Since, according to the current law, a public official is to file the last declaration no later than two months after leaving the office, there is no effective mechanism for monitoring public officials’ compliance with the restrictions that are in place for former public officials for a certain period of time after they leave public service
- The information to be provided in asset declarations is not detailed enough. For example, public officials are not required to provide identification codes of the companies in which they are involved or cadastral codes of the property they own
- There is no mechanism for verifying the information provided in asset declarations in Georgia.
Our new policy brief outlines the practices of states with effective asset declaration systems and provides a model that we think would work best for Georgia. More specifically, we believe that it is advisable to:
- Create a verification system for asset declarations
- Introduce simplified asset disclosure forms for local council members that would focus on their economic interests (their connections with private sector companies) in order to facilitate prevention of conflict of interest in local government
- Expand the list of family members whose information must be provided in a public official’s asset declaration
- Eliminate the gap in the law which makes it possible for the public officials who file a declaration at the end a year to avoid filing the next year’s declaration
- Introduce a requirement for former public officials to file an asset declaration at least a year after leaving office
- Introduce the requirement to provide company identification codes and property cadastral codes in asset declarations.
This project is funded by the European Union.
This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Transparency International Georgia and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.