Anti-graft agency is pondering new wealth declaration announcement

The National Anti-Corruption Commission is considering amending its controversial assets declaration announcement so that officials holding some positions would be exempted from having to declare their wealth and details about their assets would not be made public.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngarm said today that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as the head of the National Council for Peace and Order, would not invoke special power vested upon him by Article 44 of the interim constitution to interfere with the anti-graft agency over the controversial announcement.

Nevertheless, he said the anti-graft agency was trying to resolve the problem and it was possible that a new announcement might be issued to amend the existing one but insisted that the basic principle of good governance must remain intact.

The NACC’s announcement about assets declaration by council members of state universities and board members of several state agencies has stirred up widespread resentment among those affected, with several of them having resigned and many others threatening to quit.

The main concern among many of them is that details about their wealth will not be treated as confidential information and can be accessed to by members of the public.

Dr Wissanu said that, as a matter of principle, board members whose positions are regarded as “vulnerable” to abuses would still be required to declare their assets as well as those owned by their spouses and children under 20 years old.  Certain positions will be exempted from assets declaration, he added.

The deputy prime minister said that officials who would be required to declare their wealth under the announcement would be separated into three groups:  the first being those to be totally exempted from assets declaration; the second are those who are required to declare their assets but details of  their wealth will be kept confidential; and  those who are required to declare their wealth and details of their wealth will be made public.

This proposed arrangement is not a compromise or a retreat by the NACC, but a a way out of the dilemma, said Dr Wissanu as he appealed to incumbent board members to withhold their resignations while awaiting an amended announcement from the NACC.

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