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Meghalaya to make asset declaration mandatory

By Correspondent

SHILLONG, March 16 � After Bihar, Meghalaya would also make it mandatory for politicians, bureaucrats and government servants to disclose their assets annually.

State Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said in the Assembly today that the government was working on a policy framework to make it mandatory for politicians, bureaucrats and government servants to declare their assets annually and the policy would be implemented at the earliest. This, he believed, would help in checking corruption.

Meghalaya would be one of the few States in the country to have such a policy. Recently, Bihar made national headlines after its Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar made it mandatory for politicians and bureaucrats to declare the assets annually.

The Meghalaya Government employees must also declare their assets annually because indigenous tribals are exempted from filing Income Tax returns, so declaration of assets annually is important.

�Filing of Income Tax return is a mechanism to check assets annually. Since the tribal population here are exempted from filing IT returns, the policy would ensure that declaration of assets is also mandatory for them,� the Chief Minister said.

Stating the State Government is serious in checking corruption, Sangma further promised to overhaul the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and make it an autonomous body. Now the Chief Secretary is the ex-officio State Vigilance Commissioner (SVC).

�The ACB is not an autonomous body. The ACB is further working with a skeletal staff of ten people,� he said while promising to strengthen the organisation�s structure to check corruption.

The opposition demanded that the selection of the SVC should be done by a select committee comprising of the Leader of Opposition and others from the House as its members, to which Sangma said that the suggestion would be taken in the right earnest.

Former Lok Sabha Speaker, Purno Sangma of the NCP suggested that every department must have a vigilance officer as a means to check corruption to which the Chief Minister agreed.

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