Thursday, October 1, 2020

Disclosure of ministers’ finances would leave cabinet empty – Boko

Should there be legislation requiring banks to disclose minister’s financial assets the country is likely to remain without cabinet, Leader of Opposition Duma Boko implied when addressing parliament this week.

Commenting on the Banking (Amendment) Bill, Boko said it was about time that an obligation was imposed on banks to make disclosures on ministers the minute they are appointed to Cabinet.

“Mind you, you will see how many of you will run away from your ministerial positions right now if that were to happen,” Boko said, adding “In an indirect way, I am trying to force you to make these disclosures to the public which you do not want to bring about through a declaration of assets bill.”

He said it was very important for Ministers to make a full and accurate disclosure of their assets.

Boko also raised concerns about certain ambiguities in the Banking Bill which he said made the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) open to abuse.

“I just want to make one quick point which is to raise a query in relation to the proposed amendment of Section 43 to include the Financial Intelligence Agency amongst those that can request information in respect of customer’s details or banking transactions,” he said.

“If I had engaged in certain transactions or anybody has for that matter, and these transactions occur on platforms that leave a trail, would the person in respect of whom such information is being sought be informed, for instance? ‘We are checking stuff about you, we have requested this;’ so that the person knows. Is that how it is going to work?” He said questions arise because as the legislation presently stands, the issues are not dealt with and it becomes very important because they affect people’s rights by invading their privacy which is secured under Section 9 of the Constitution of Botswana. “The justification for the abrogation in the Constitution is that it must be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society, would you say that? If you say it is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society in relation to Rre (Slumber) Tsogwane, why is it then not happening in relation to Rre Kitso Mokaila? Why have you selected this particular one and set him apart if it is available in respect of anybody and everybody on the basis that you think it is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society,” The Leader of opposition asked rhetorically. Questioning the logic behind the proposed amendment of Section 43 Boko asked what would trigger such an inquiry. He asked what would entitle the FIA to make the request. “What would have happened for that to be the case? In other words, as I know you folks do not like me, and you do not have any reason to because I do not like you too, but if that is the case and you then instruct these agencies because they fall under you, your Government, to harass and request information about me, there is absolutely no basis, there is nothing suspicious about anything I do or anything I may have done at that given point, would Financial Intelligence Agency be entitled for instance, to willy-nilly make these requests?” He said the question was whether there has to be a certain set of circumstances that would become the condition precedent to making the request.

“The point is, make sure you tighten your legislation; you draft it so neatly, so elegantly, so crisply and so clearly that it cannot be stretched to encompass situations that it should not lend itself to abuse.”

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