Ornamental trees, paintings and art crafts are now assets subject to declaration by public employees under a Government Inspectorate Circular effective last December.
Under Circular No. 08/2013/TT-TTCP which seeks to increase transparency in asset ownership of target groups, furniture, photos, paintings, art crafts and ornamental trees must be declared by their owners if they are valued at VND 50 million or more.
Real estate ranks first in the eight groups of assets subject to declaration__Photo: Le Sen/VNA
The Circular, which further details Government Decree No. 78 of 2013 on transparency of assets and incomes, specifies eight groups of assets which must be made public. They include houses and construction works and land use rights, including those without ownership certificates or with ownership certificates bearing the names of persons other than the obligatory declarers. Other assets to be declared include cash amounts, loans, money deposited at domestic individuals and organizations or foreign organizations in Vietnam; cars, motorbikes, ships, boats and other movables subject to use registration with the State; precious metals, gemstones, stocks and other valuable papers if these assets are each worth VND 50 million or more. These assets must be declared even if they are outside Vietnam.
Under the Circular, full-time deputies to the National Assembly and People’s Councils, candidates for the National Assembly or People’s Councils and persons to be elected or accredited by the National Assembly or People’s Councils are the first of the nine groups of obligatory asset declarers.
The second group includes cadres and civil servants holding the post of deputy head of a section of the district-level People’s Committee or a higher post and persons entitled to allowances for equivalent posts in state agencies, organizations and units and other state-funded organizations.
Next are commanding officers holding the post of battalion deputy commander or a higher post and persons entitled to allowances for equivalent posts in the People’s Army; commanding officers holding the post of battalion deputy commander or a higher post, deputy chief of ward or township police office or holders of higher posts in the People’s Public Security.
Also subject to asset declaration are holders of a post equivalent to deputy head of a section in hospitals, research institutes, press agencies and management units of state-funded projects or official development assistance (ODA) projects.
Principals and deputy principals of preschools, primary schools, lower and upper secondary schools and continuing education centers; and holders of a post equivalent to deputy head of a section in state universities, colleges, professional secondary schools and vocational schools or a higher post must also declare their assets and incomes.
Members of the Board of Directors, Members’ Council and Control Board, controllers, holders of a post equivalent to deputy head of a section in state enterprises or a higher post, and representatives of the state capital or capital of state enterprises holding the post of deputy head of a section or a higher post in state or state-invested enterprises are also target declarers.
The next group of declarers consists of Party Committee secretaries and deputy secretaries, chairpersons and vice chairpersons of People’s Councils, chairpersons, vice chairpersons and members of commune-level People’s Committees; police chiefs, military commanders, and cadastral, construction, financial, justice - civic registration officers of communes.
Investigators, procurators, verifiers, judges, court clerks, state auditors, inspectors, executors, state public notaries are other asset declarers.
Finally, persons who do not hold managerial posts in agencies of the State and the Party, socio-political organizations, public non-business units, units of the People’s Army and the People’s Public Security but are assigned to manage the state budget funds and state assets must also make public their assets.
Declarers must declare their total incomes equivalent in dong in a year, which include salaries, allowances, bonuses, donations, gifts, inheritances, yields from investment and inventions and other incomes.
Under the Circular, heads of agencies, organizations or units may decide on the form of publicizing declarations of their staff which can be announced at meetings or posted up at their offices for at least 30 days.
The Circular allows competent persons to verify a person’s declaration if there is a written denunciation that his declaration is untruthful or more information is needed to serve the election, appointment, dismissal or disciplining of that person. Verification will also be conducted when there are grounds to believe that a person’s justifications of the origin of his added assets are unreasonable. The time limit for verifying a declaration is 20 working days or 30 working days, for complicated cases, after a verification decision is issued.
Phi Ngoc Tuyen, deputy director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau under the Government Inspectorate, told the Tuoi Tre (Youth) daily that measures to ensure transparency of assets were tougher, citing the publicity of declarations under Circular No. 08 as an example. Under Anti-Corruption Law, declarers must only declare their assets with concerned organizations without having their declarations verified and their declarations were kept as confidential documents, Tuyen said.
He pointed out other stronger measures such as the requirement for declarers to justify the origin of their assets and incomes as well as expanded verification conditions, citing a person would now have his assets verified if there is a denunciation regardless of whether such denunciation is accompanied with proofs as required previously.
However, he acknowledged that transparency of personal assets was not that simple given the common practice of registering assets under the names of persons other than their real owners. He also pointed to cash transactions so popular in the country where an advanced and convenient payment system was unavailable as an obstacle for controlling the declaration of assets.
Tuyen also said there still lacked specific measures for the implementation of regulations on publicity of assets and incomes.
Former State Bank Governor Cao Sy Kiem was not so confident about the enforceability of regulations on declaration of assets, saying there was no way to force a person to declare such assets as stocks, shares or real estate which could be easily registered under the names of unreal owners or falsely accounted.
Lawyer Nguyen Van Hau from Ho Chi Minh City also agreed controlling assets and incomes was not easy and would remain formalistic unless all transactions of civil servants and public employees are made through banks and publicized at their places of residence and there are mechanisms to control assets of their families and relatives.- (VLLF)