Nominated Senator Farhiya Ali Haji has drafted a new bill that seeks to compel top State officials, including the President and Deputy President to make their wealth public.
Dubbed Lifestyle Audit Bill, 2019, the proposed law seeks to remove restrictions on Kenyans seeking to access information on income, assets, and liabilities of public office holders.
The bill requires wealth declaration forms of State officers be made easily available to citizens through a website or in an unrestricted database hosted by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), according to Business Daily.
If the bill gets Parliament’s approval, members of the public will have easy access to wealth information of State officers including the President, DP, all members of the Cabinet, MPs, Senators, Governors, and heads of State corporations.
Currently, public officers are expected to declare their wealth after every two years but the information remains confidential and can only be accessed by those in pursuit of public interest.
“The contents of a declaration or clarification (on income, assets, and liabilities) under this Act shall be accessible to the public,” the bill reads in part.
Under the law, public officers will be required to declare their wealth and that of their spouses and dependent children in December of every second year.
Farhiya’s bill seeks to amend section 30 of Public Officer Ethics Act that states: “The contents of a declaration or clarification under this Act shall be accessible to any person upon application to the responsible Commission in the prescribed manner if the applicant shows to the satisfaction of the responsible Commission that he or she has a legitimate interest and good cause in furtherance of the objectives of this Act.”
The bill seeks to entrench integrity in the public service and offer guidelines on the vetting of government officials accused of living beyond their known income.
“There is no legal framework on how a lifestyle audit is to be carried out on a public or a state officer who is suspected to be living beyond that person’s lawful income,” Ms. Haji says in the bill.
“Lifestyle audit may be carried out on the immediate family of a public or a State officer if it is established that property in question is owned by the public or State officer or members of their immediate family, including joint ownership,” the bill adds.
Under the proposed law, giving false information will attract a fine of at least Sh5 million or a two-year jail term or both.