GIS - 03 December, 2015: Government has pledged to conduct business on the principles of discipline, transparency, accountability and exemplary governance. It took a firm commitment to act decisively to address the social and economic problems that have plagued our nation for nearly a decade.
In a speech in the National Assembly on December 02 at the second reading of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, the Prime Minister recalled that Government will remain steadfast in its commitment and relentlessly fight fraud, corruption and financial crime adding that there is a clear mandate from the people to bring about meaningful change.
Given that good governance is a prerequisite for meaningful change, Sir Anerood Jugnauth told the National Assembly that no stone will be left unturned to eradicate malpractices and irregularities from all aspects of public life and restore our national values.
“The Constitution (Amendment) Bill No XXIX of 2015 is intrinsically linked to the Good Governance and Integrity Reporting Bill which seeks to promote a culture of integrity and good governance in the country”, he said.
The Prime Minister cautioned that corruption will not be overcome if preventive measures are not accompanied by effective deterrents. On that score the confiscation of the proceeds of crime constitutes an important additional deterrent that often has a greater impact than fines or prison terms. He pointed out that the threat of confiscation also entails preventive effects, as it makes the commission of the crime less attractive.
“We are not against the rich or the accumulation of wealth per se. Honest people have nothing to fear. Whatever they may have earned rightfully and lawfully will be theirs to enjoy. The aim of Government is to check accumulation of wealth through backdoor mechanisms. And there is nothing wrong with this”, reassured the Prime Minister.
Sir Anerood explained that the object is to amend section 8 of the Constitution so as to provide for the taking of possession of property:
· under the ownership of a person to an extent which is disproportionate to his emoluments and other income;
· the ownership, possession, custody or control of which cannot be satisfactorily accounted for by the person who owns, possesses, has custody or control of the property; or
· held by a person for another person to an extent which is disproportionate to the emoluments or other income of that other person, by way of confiscation.
He underlined that the concept of asset confiscation is not totally new in our jurisdiction. It already exists in our body of law. He recalled that the Asset Recovery Act already introduced in the Mauritian law the concept of a non-conviction based recovery of assets and that the amendment which is now being proposed constitutes an important additional arsenal in the hands of the State to track down and recover ill-gotten gains.
Sir Anerood concluded by stating that the existing legislation has not allowed for the forfeiture of ill-gotten assets of individuals nor has it curbed unexplained wealth in Mauritius and underlined that with this proposed amendment to the Constitution. The message that is being sent is that it will no longer be business as usual for individuals who have disproportionate wealth with regard to their declared income and other means.
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