Why Cabinet nominees wealth details are likely to remain secret after vetting – Business Daily
Aisha Jumwa, the Cabinet nominee for Public Service, when she appeared before a parliamentary committee for vetting on October 18, 2022. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG
The ongoing vetting of President William Ruto’s Cabinet nominees has given Kenyans a glimpse into their personal wealth. But it is perhaps the only chance Kenyans have to know how wealthy the nominees are. Their individual net worth will henceforth likely remain a closely guarded secret until they exit the public office.
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WHAT ARE THE PRESCRIBED FINANCIAL DECLARATIONS?
The Public Officer Ethics Act, 2003 — the anchor law guiding how public offices should declare their wealth — prescribes that every public officer must make financial declarations of incomes, assets and liabilities.
There are three types of declarations. The first is the initial declaration made by a public officer within 30 days of joining the service. The second is made by a public officer every two years while in the service. The third and final declaration is made by a public officer within 30 days of leaving the service.
WHEN IS THE DECLARATION MADE?
The dates for the three types of declarations will vary. For instance, the initial declaration will be done on the date of first appointment to the service. For the every-two-year declaration, this must be done by November 1 of the year of the declaration while the final declaration is done on the date one ceases to be a public officer.
WHO SHOULD DECLARE WEALTH?
All public officers, from the President down to the ward representatives, must declare their wealth. Others who must declare their wealth are employees of the various constitutional commissions, including teachers under the Teachers Service Commission and all officers in the Parliamentary Service Commission in job groups P and above.
WHO KEEPS THE WEALTH DECLARATION INFORMATION?
An authorised officer by the PSC retains declarations made by public officers in a job group below H or its equivalent. For the public officers in job group H and above or its equivalent, the authorised officer shall deliver the declarations to the PSC Secretary.
For every two-year declaration, the delivery must be done before January 31 following the declaration year. The initial and final declarations must be forwarded to the commission within 30 days of submission by the public officer.
WHAT HAPPENS IN CASE OF A DISCREPANCY?
Public officers who have submitted a declaration to the commission will be required to provide, without undue delay, any clarification requested by the commission if the request is in writing and is made within six months after the declaration was submitted. The clarification can be on any information on the declaration as well as any omissions, discrepancies or inconsistencies.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF NON-COMPLIANCE?
A public officer who fails to make a declaration or a clarification or who makes a false or misleading declaration or clarification may be prosecuted in a court of law or subjected to disciplinary proceedings. In that regard, the authorised officer or PSC will initiate action.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR FALSE INFORMATION?
A public officer who fails to submit a declaration or clarification or provides false or misleading information is guilty of an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both.
HOW CAN A CITIZEN OR ANY THIRD PARTY ACCESS THE WEALTH DECLARATIONS?
Any person, including a law enforcement agency, may apply in writing to an authorised officer or the Commission to access or acquire or publish information in the declaration.
But for the information to be disclosed to the applicant, the commission or authorised officer must be convinced that the applicant has legitimate interest and good cause to justify the disclosure or publication. The commission or authorised officer shall not permit disclosure or publication of the information unless the involved public officer has been notified of the intended action and his response put into consideration.
CAN ONE PUBLISH THE WEALTH DECLARATION AFTER OBTAINING IT?
The law prohibits anyone or a public body, including a law enforcement agency, from publishing or in any way making public information in a declaration held by the commission or an authorised officer under the Act except with prior written authority of the commission or authorised officer.