Private Column by Transparency Solomon Islands
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Wednesday, 4 September 2013 7:04 AM

Time’s Up

It’s time for the Leadership Code Commission to take some action.

Two months ago the Chairman of LCC wrote to 36 MPs and 15 Permanent Secretaries to ask why they have not submitted their Declaration of Financial Interest statements.

According to the Leadership Code Commission (Further Provisions) Act 1999, every leader must provide details of their financial affairs within three months of being appointed or elected to their position.

A leader’s spouse and children must also submit a statement of their financial interests.

They must then update this statement every two years while holding a leadership position.

The statement should include information such as details of companies that they own or are directors of, occupations of family members, share holdings, their total income including all sources of income, any business transactions they are involved in of a value of more than $1000, details of all gifts received and all assets that they own.

Each of the 36 MPs and 15 PSs were given 60 days to respond to the LCC, submitting their statements and explaining why the had failed to submit their statements on time.

It has now been 79 days since these elected officials and high ranking public servants were asked to respond to these serious matters, yet we the public have heard nothing.

Transparency Solomon Islands has made several attempts to contact our colleagues at the Leadership Code Commission to check up on this matter. Unfortunately the Chairman has not returned our calls.

Now with the knowledge that the period set by LCC has already lapsed, there are few questions that we here at TSI believe need to be answered.

The public has a right to know if the MPs and Permanent Secretaries concerned have responded to the LCC’s enquiry.

If some have done the right thing and provided their statements to the LCC, we should all be told who these MPs and PSs are so that their names can be cleared.

TSI also believes that the LCC should tell the public what action it intends to take against those who have failed to respond within the specified time period.

The problem is that, since LCC Act was watered down in 1999 the penalty for leaders failing to submit their disclosure of financial affairs on time is just $100.

Even if the Commission decided that a leader’s continuous failure to submit their statement amounts to misconduct, the maximum fine is just $5000.

TSI view this as a very small penalty to a powerful person who has failed to follow one of the most basic requirements of their well-paid office.

The Chairman of the Leadership Code Commission has said on many occasions that he wants the Act that he enforces strengthened to give the Commission more power to penalize public officers that do the wrong thing.

We know that amendments to the Act have been drafted on two occasions in recent years but still the Government has not acted to strengthen this important accountability institution.

So it is time for the LCC to act, it must clear the names of those who have done the right thing by submitting their declaration of financial interests and take further action against those who are unwilling to comply with these rules.

We want to know what you think. Call TSI on 28319, send an email to media@transparencysi.org, visit our website www.transparencysi.org, find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/TransparencySI or

drop by our office in the Stephen and Sons Building, China Town, Honiara

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Transparency Solomon Islands and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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