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March 1, 2024 2:33

Latest update:January 3, 2023

Transparency Index shows that public disclosure of politicians' earnings strengthens the fight against corruption

Countries where the assets of public servants are known lead the Corruption Perceptions Index and have better business environments. Around here, the declarations of assets of politicians and public servants remain “under lock and key” and can only be unlocked by court order, and even so their content remains a secret of justice.

Of the ten countries that lead the International Transparency Index on the Perception of Corruption in 2020, only one does not make public the tax returns of its public servants, a mechanism that, according to experts consulted by Expansão, alone does not solve the problem of corruption but allows for greater surveillance by citizens over their politicians.

 

Last week, the President of the Republic, João Lourenço, defended the secrecy of public servants’ assets, discarding their disclosure as a way of preserving the rights of this fringe of society. João Lourenço, who was speaking at a collective interview with five media outlets, including Expansão, which previously sent two questions, revealed that “this is a way of protecting the good name to which all citizens are entitled, including those who in certain point in their lives become public servants”.

 

According to jurists and a sociologist that Expansão consulted, what the President of the Republic did not say is that the public disclosure of the declaration of assets of public servants and politicians is one of the steps that contribute to a given country being considered more or less corrupt.

 

And unlike what he said, “I don’t know of any democracy” that publicly discloses the assets of its politicians, an Expansion consultation based on the countries that lead the Corruption Perception Index demonstrates the opposite. That is, the countries where the public servants’ declaration of assets is public are the ones that are best placed in the ranking, different from those that “hide” these declarations.

 

Denmark, which today reaps the fruits of more than 350 years of commitment against corruption in the public and private sector, led the 2020 ranking of 180 countries in this Transparency International index, the main global indicator of transparency, with 88 points, the same as New Zealand, which occupies the second position.

 

Of the 10 countries that led the IPC in 2020, only one, Singapore, does not publicly disclose the assets of its public servants. This information is handed over to the Head of State, who keeps the conclusions for himself. A bit like what the Public Probity Law mandates in Angola, since public servants are obliged to deliver a closed letter to the Attorney General of the Republic, who can only consult it by court order, maintaining, even so, the information out of reach of the public.

 

In the 2020 Corruption Perception Index, Angola appears in position 142, with only 27 points, even so, the country took a leap compared to 2017, the year in which it ranked 167th. The IPC scores 180 countries and territories based on perceived levels of corruption in the public sector by experts and businesspeople, where 100 points mean very clean and mean highly corrupt.

 

Sub-Saharan Africa, with an average of 32 points, is the lowest ranked region in the world in this ranking, which also turns out to be an indicator of the quality of democracies in different countries. Angola is below average for the region. As for Portuguese-speaking countries, Angola ranks sixth, ahead of Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea. Here, Portugal leads the ranking, followed by Cape Verde.

 

In Portuguese territory, the norm is similar to that of most of its partners in the European Union, with politicians and public office holders being obliged to submit to the Constitutional Court a declaration of income and assets, which can be consulted by citizens. Even so, this obligation is not always met and, in the last nine years, 70 politicians and holders of high public office have been penalized by the judicial authorities for irregularities in the presentation of declarations of income and assets. Nineteen were removed from office, punished with loss of mandate, and 44 were prevented from returning to occupy those positions.

 

Source: Expansão

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