The Ombudsman of the Republic of Vanuatu, Mr Hamlison Bulu yesterday reminded all persons who are classified as leaders pursuant to Article 67 of the Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu and Section 5 of the Leadership Code Act that they only have 13 days to submit their annual returns.
Article 67 of the Constitution classified the following positions as Leaders, the Head of State, the Prime Minister and members of parliament. Section 5 of the Leadership Code provides that persons holding the following positions are also classified as Leaders.
a. members of the National Council of Chiefs;
b. elected and nominated members of local government councils;
c. elected and nominated members of municipal councils;
d. political advisors to a Minister;
e. directors-general of ministries and directors of departments;
f. members and the chief executive officers (however described) of the boards and statutory authorities;
g. chief executive officers or secretaries-general of local government;
h. the town clerks (or their equivalent in name) of municipal councils;
i. persons who are:
i. directors of companies or other bodies corporate wholly owned by the Government; and
ii. appointed as directors by the Government;
j. the Attorney General;
k. the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police;
l. the Solicitor General;
m. the Public Prosecutor;
n. the Public Solicitor;
o. the Ombudsman;
p. the Clerk of the Parliament;
q. the Principal Electoral Officer;
r. the Auditor-General;
s. the Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee;
t. the Chairperson when acting in that capacity of the Tenders Board;
u. members of the Public Service Commission;
v. members of the Teaching Service Commission;
w. members of the Police Service Commission;
x. members of the Electoral Commission;
y. the Commander of the Vanuatu Mobile Forces.
Section 31(2) of the Leadership Code Act requires all persons classified as Leaders to submit their annual returns to the Ombudsman by 1st of March each year and also within two months of becoming a leader.
The office of the Ombudsman has an indication of over 400 people who currently occupy positions which are classified as Leaders however only 5 have submitted their annual returns.
After the date line of 1st of March leaders who have failed to submit their annual returns will be given a final 14-day period to submit their returns. Leaders who do not file and those who file false information on their returns will be dealt with.
Ombudsman Bulu, urged leaders to file their returns and to respect their positions, respect the law and also to respect people who are being them and have helped them to be in the position they hold today.
The following information required to be submitted in the annual returns form includes, list of assets such as properties one has, land and houses, vehicles, boats or income received in the previous year, Leaders must list all their liabilities such as mortgages and any debts they owe.
All information submitted is confidential however the names of those who do not submit their annual returns will be published in an official gazette by the State Law Office.
A Leader who will be convicted for not submitting his annual return will be liable to pay a fine not exceeding 2,000,000 vatu.
Source: Office of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Vanuatu