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NGOs want greater transparency in declared assets of Hungarian public officials

Investigative journalism website Atlatszo.hu and anti-corruption organizations Transparency International Hungary and K-Monitor have sent an open letter to Hungary’s members of parliament regarding the submission of their 2015 declaration of personal assets.

All MPs are required by law to submit a declaration of assets every January. The three civil organizations have called on the Hungarian parliament to set a good example in the fight against corruption by going the extra mile when it comes to filling out their declarations.

Their recommendations include the following:

Real Transparency

  • Instead of submitting handwritten and scanned handwritten declaration of assets, MPs and other government officials should submit a computerized version of the declaration that can be searched, catalogued and compared digitally.
  • A unified electronic state-run database should be created that allows the declarations of government officials to be searched according to the period of the mandate served.
  • The declarations of the relatives and household members of MPs and members of government should be made available to the public via the internet.

Real Substance

  • The declaration should include the source of all assets and liabilities listed in the declaration of assets.
  • For members of parliament, the declaration should also include any post or position held in business or with civil organizations regardless of whether the position is paid or not.
  • The non public part of the declaration of assets should contain identifying information regarding the listed property (including detailed description and address of each and every real estate owned, and license plate number of each and every vehicle owned).  However, such information should only be available to the Parliamentary Immunity Committee and to authorities.

Real Review

  • The declaration of assets should be reviewed by the Tax Authority.
  • The declaration of assets should automatically be matched against the tax returns submitted to the Tax Authority.
  • Automatic review for discrepancies regarding undeclared accumulation of wealth.

Real Consequences

  • Any intentional or grievously negligent violation of the rules governing declaration of assets should immediately be punishable under Hungary’s criminal code.
  • Refraining from submitting declarations of assets and providing false information in a respective declaration of assets and abuse of the public’s trust should be punishable by prison sentence and a complete banning from making decisions regarding the use of public funds.
  • It should also be punishable if an official delays the submission of – or makes mistakes in – filling out their declaration of assets.

 

 

Benjamin Novak :