The document requires the following categories of individuals to disclose the information on their income and assets:
- persons holding public positions, civil servants, employees of public and municipal unitary enterprises and other public entities and state owned enterprises;
- deputies of the People’s Assembly and local government bodies;
- candidates for the President, Vice-Presidents and deputies of the People’s Assembly and local government bodies.
The abovementioned individuals should also make declarations regarding the income and assets of their spouses, children (including adult children), parents and siblings.
According to the Law, the declaration should include the information on:
- income received from different sources (financial remuneration, allowances, pensions, prizes, lottery rewards, etc.);
- movable and immovable property owned or used by the declarant;
- financial assets, securities and other documents confirming some sort of property rights;
- participatory share in the authorized (joint) capital of legal persons.
In addition, the declarants should also provide the information on their expenditures and those of the members of their families regarding every contract for the purchase of real estate property, vehicles, securities, participatory share in the authorized (joint) capital of legal persons if the total amount of the contract exceeds the total income of the declarant and the members of his or her family for the two years preceding the conclusion of the contract. They should also disclose the source of the money paid under the contract.
Public officials should submit their declarations to the human resources office of their respective public body and to the Ministry of Taxation and Duties by April 30 of every year following the reporting year and within 30 days since their appointment to and removal from a position. After leaving a position the public officer who occupied it should submit his or her annual declarations for the following two years. The respective declaration forms are annexed to the Law.
The record, storage and publication of declarations are managed by the human resources offices of public bodies. The Ministry of Taxation and Duties and the respective human resources office verify the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in declarations.
In the event that it is discovered that a contract amounting to a sum exceeding the total income of a declarant and the members of his or her family for the preceding three years has been concluded, the respective public body may decide to impose control on the expenditures of that declarant and the members of his or her family. If a declarant fails to provide or knowingly provides false information on income, expenditures, assets and liabilities, he or she is removed from his or her position without the right to be reinstated in public service.
The declarations and the information on the contracts that have been concluded with the exception of the numbers of bank accounts, cards and their equivalents as well as the data classified as the state secret or other secret protected by law are fully published on the official website of the Ministry of Taxation and Duties and are provided for the publication in official gazettes.
The document will come into force after the adoption of the Law “On Civil Service” scheduled by the Parliament of Abkhazia for December 30, 2020 (at present the draft law is still being developed).
Initially it was a civic initiative group supporting the implementation of article 20 of the UN Convention against Corruption that prepared and submitted in 2018 to Parliament their proposals to incorporate the provisions on the declaration of income and assets of public officials into legislation. The respective law was adopted only last February after civil society activists held a termless rally outside Parliament. However, the members of the initiative group labeled the adopted law as a sham and continued to protest: six of them went on a hunger strike outside the palace of the Council of Ministers in Sukhumi on March 2. They demanded, among other things, to expand the list of the members of family subject to the submission of declarations and to lift the ban on the open publishing of certain information on declarants.
As a result, Parliament adopted Law of March 20, 2020 No. 4963-c-VI “On Amendments to the Law of the Republic of Abkhazia “On the Declaration of Income, Expenditures, Assets and Liabilities of Public Officials and Deputies” on March 12. At the same time throughout the discussion of the Law many members of parliament criticized the proposed amendments. In particular, it was noted that a series of its provisions contradicted the Family Code and the laws on the bank secrecy and state secret, whilst the adoption of the amendments to the document that had not come into force were not in line with the norms regarding the publication and entry into force of laws and other acts, adopted by Parliament.