ANALYSIS: Declaration of wealth an uphill task but positive move-analysts

PM Hassan Khaire (R) and President Mohamed Farmaajo during a meeting Tuesday with newly appointed cabinet. Photo: Villa Somalia|March 21, 2017
PM Hassan Khaire (R) and President Mohamed Farmaajo during a meeting Tuesday with newly appointed cabinet. Photo: Villa Somalia|March 21, 2017

Prime Minister Hassan Khaire’s announcement the new administration starting from the President will declare their wealth in a move to promote open governance and tame run-away graft in the country has elicited mixed reactions particularly with regards to goodwill and implementation.

The PM said all ministers and their deputies will be required to fill in forms to declare their wealth and an audit be conducted when they exit office. The President and the Prime Minister will lead by example, the PM said.

“We will know what you will have acquired when you leave office and we can be able to know if one acquired wealth through some unorthodox means,” the PM said setting what is likely to be an unprecedented bar and exciting public expectation.

No option

Mohamed Mubarak, the Executive Director of the anti-corruption watchdog Marqaati welcomes the move as a good start for the new administration but warns the real test lies in the implementation which the President and Prime Minister have no option but to.

“They have made a statement of intent and this is a good move. It is a good start but they must now move in and implement it. If they fail to then they will lose public good will and it will just be a continuation of the old order,” said Mubarak.

Mubarak observes the new leaders must not only declare their wealth but make it public for purposes of accountability and confidence. Said Mubarak, “It is their duty so there is no question about it. Most importantly, they must make it public. We will continue reminding them to make good their promise.”

Resources and resolve

Professor Hussein Warsame, the Chair of the Accounting Area at the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, Britain also applauds the move but notes the implementation will require resources and good will. “The requirement by PM Kheire that all members of his cabinet should disclose and list their assets now and that there will be an audit on their wealth after their tenure in office is a very welcome development. It will require resources and resolve to implement the policy,” said Prof. Warsame.

Prof. Warsame also concurs with Mubarak on public disclosure. “If Kheire’s government publishes that information, it will bolster the citizen’s perception about the government’s integrity.”

The implementation of this declaration, Prof Warsame notes is likely to receive international support for the new administration.

Tall order

Others however see the Prime Minister’s announcement as utopian noting the lack of institutional capacity and necessary legal instruments makes the declaration a tall order.

“The Prime Minister seems to have failed to take into account the prevailing situation in Somalia which is almost the opposite of developed countries he is exposed to. Somalia does not have an anti-corruption body which is responsible for this kind of work. Our banking system is almost none existent. How can you verify information regarding someone’s finances held in Somali banks?” Finish based political analyst Mohamed Alim posits.

Alim avers the Prime Minister’s announcement is far from reality and that he can only achieve his mission by working with parliament to fast track the formation of the requisite institutions to effect such endevours, a position Mubarak shares.

“We have constitutional mechanisms to realise this. The anti-corruption commission is one of them and its formation is crucial to deal with issues of graft and promote integrity and transparency in governance,” said Mubarak.

Ant-corruption commission

Article 111c of the Provisional Constitution contemplates the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission whose mandate among others is ‘to promote integrity, accountability, and proper management of public matters and property’.

Parliament is yet to debate the formation of the anti-graft body five years after the country adopted the 2012 Provisional Constitution.

Ministers will also must also play a crucial role in coming forward with true and accurate information about their wealth. Some of the members of the cabinet are drawn from parliament and Mubarak observes some appeared in their list of shame in the parliamentary elections but notes, ‘only time will tell if they will change.’

Khaire sounded upbeat on his choice for ministers noting it was the best team to drive his government’s agenda. “I selected a Cabinet that best reflect our people & have the passion to drive our agenda for development forward collectively.”

 

 


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