Moroccan MPs must declare assets by May
By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 20/01/10
Members of Morocco's Parliament must declare their assets by May 2010, as the government implements a law passed in 2008 to govern the conduct of elected officials.
Parliamentarians will have to declare assets including movable and immovable property, bank deposits, financial assets and vehicles. They are also legally required to renew their declarations every three years.
A source from Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi's office told Magharebia on January 14th that documents explaining the minimum declaration threshold for MPs have yet to be released to the public. The prime minister is still waiting for decrees from the department to modernise the public sector, as well as from the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
Members of Parliament took issue with how long the measure took to implement, and also questioned how effective the law will be.
Lawyer and MP Fatima Moustaghfir last week told Magharebia that the law should have been implemented as soon as it was passed. She attributed the delay to procedural errors.
But Moustaghfir is concerned that the law does not do enough to stem potential abuse by MPs.
"Without a doubt, the law is an important one," she said. "But MPs are not council chairmen with a budget to manage." She said MPs could circumvent the law by diverting assets to members of their family, among other ways.
"The law is not enough, and needs to be accompanied by the introduction of measures regarding education and public awareness," she added.
The law is the first of its kind in Morocco, according to economist Mohamed Jebbour. He believes it will lead to a long-awaited improvement of standards in public life.
"For example, corrupt high-ranking public officials who misappropriate funds or use their position to give illegal advantage will be obliged to share their assets," he said. But he emphasised that the government must remain vigilant about stop-gapping loopholes.
"Family members of high-ranking officials are not covered [by the law]. The law only applies to the wife and under-age children," said the economist.
MP Lahcen Daoudi, who openly supported the bill as it was debated in 2007, now casts doubt over how effective it will be.
"A great many laws are enacted without them being enforced in any real way," he told Magharebia last week in Rabat. "The law on the declaration of assets is of vital importance, provided that declarations are genuine, and effective checks and balances are implemented."
A source from the Ministry for Public Sector Modernisation reassured Magharebia that the newly passed legislation would lead to "the correct application of the law and checking procedures".
"Indeed, if the provisions of the law are not respected, the Court of Accounts will issue a warning to the offender, who will have a maximum of two months in which to rectify the matter," the source explained.
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