Opinions sought on controversial ‘conflict of interest’ draft bill

national September 23, 2016 01:00

By THE NATION

THE GOVERNMENT will ask concerned agencies and the public to offer input about a new draft bill, which will result in punitive measures being taken against officials and their families who are found to have benefited from conflict of interest with the sta



For the sake of thoroughness, Wissanu said the government will disseminate the draft among the agencies and the public, so they can say whether the measures proposed are too heavy or too lenient. 
The draft caused controversy because its previous version was ambiguous about penalties against the state officials and their families. It said that up to “seven generations of the family of a fraudulent official” would be punished for their actions. This draft is part of the government’s effort to address corruption and reform anti-corruption measures, especially within state offices.
In response to the controversy, Wissanu said the government had now reduced the guilt links to “four generations” – or just children, parents and siblings who benefited from a fraudulent official’s actions that were in conflict with the state’s interest. 
The process will take a month or so before the Cabinet studies the draft again and forwards it to the National Legislative Assembly for deliberation and endorsement. The draft can then be enacted by the end of this year, Wissanu said. 
However, he declined to comment on whether corruption could be controlled with the new bill, only saying that it would scare away ill-intentioned persons, especially those who wished to propose projects for their own benefit. 
Wissanu added that the bill would not be too strict against minor offences such as using state materials like envelopes or charging devices inside state buildings. He also said that guidelines will be provided about what exactly can be deemed as an offence. 
He also said that once the new Corruption Court begins operating on October 3, it will be given some cases from the Criminal Court. And if the new court proves to be popular, more regional branches will be set up to ease the burden. 
 

Most view