The federal cabinet met over power industry issues, but in the same session also approved the Federal Government (Amendment) Bill, under which civil servants would have to declare their assets. This measure would apply to all federal government employees, including members of the superior judiciary as well as the military, and would make them equal to members of legislatures, who are required to declare their assets annually, apart from when they become candidates for election. These declarations are made public, as will be civil servants’ assets under the proposed amendment. This measure is meant to prevent corruption, and was accompanied by a cabinet direction to the Law, and Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ministry to finalise the much-delayed accountability law for its approval. The cabinet must not await that law before tabling the assets declaration amendment in Parliament, where it must give priority to its passage. Though the government has the option of promulgating an ordinance, and though the deadline of the current financial year looms ahead, passage through Parliament is possible within the current financial year. There are two points to be noted: first, that the new law must be applicable from the beginning of the coming financial year, and secondly, that the provinces must soon follow suit. Because the land revenue and the police departments are provincial, it is likely that the provinces will see the most resistance to this measure.

However, it deserves examination how the measure has functioned with the legislators. The annual declaration usually results in failure to report by a large number, but the threat of being unseated leads to reluctant and incomplete compliance. The amendment must be given similar teeth, so that government servants fear the loss of their jobs if they do not comply. Not only will the measure prevent civil servants from corruption, but it will also make them less tolerant of corruption in others, superior and subordinate alike. Combined with legislators’ declarations of assets, it should prevent corruption. However, it has been noted that references based on their declarations have focused on degrees and been used by electoral rivals, rather than ordinary citizens, though they are so empowered.

The government must not delay on this count. It must not be forgotten that if politicians are able to practice corruption, it is because they find accomplices among civil servants. Because there are no obvious exploiters of the statements, an agency is required to probe those statements and use them for evidence of corruption. That department could also be tasked with checking the veracity of politicians’ assets.