Transparency Maldives (TM), the national chapter of the global anti-corruption movement Transparency International, has expressed serious concern that members of Parliament continue to advocate for their own interests over that of the public. The organisation’s criticism was articulated in a statement posted on X on Thursday.

In the statement, TM also highlighted flaws in the current asset declaration regime for parliament members.

Under the existing system, MPs are not required to submit their asset declarations upon assuming office. Instead, according to TM, they must file these declarations one and a half years later, creating a significant gap during which wealth accumulation remains unverified.

TM argues that this delay complicates efforts to determine whether any enrichment was illicit. It allows MPs to serve their own interests rather than their constituents, said TM.

TM has been advocating for stronger asset declaration laws to address this issue, including drafting a Bill on Financial and Other Interests submitted to the 19th Parliament in February 2022. Unfortunately, the Bill remained in the Committee Stage when the 19th parliament concluded.

The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that 67 out of the 93 Parliamentarians in the 20th parliament are newly elected. As a result of the absence of robust laws, “there is also a lack of information on their assets, liabilities, income from other sources and potential conflicts of interest,” said TM.

Reacting to TM’s statement, the Secretariat of Parliament accused the organisation of spreading misinformation about the asset declaration regime. In a post to X, the Secretariat clarified that lawmakers are required to submit their asset declarations after one year in office, not one and a half years, as TM claimed.

According to the corrected timeline, lawmakers of the 20th parliament have to submit their asset declarations by 31 August 2025, as one year of assuming office will be reached on 28 May 2025.

“In the absence of robust laws, we reiterate our calls on Parliament Members to proactively publish their asset declarations when assuming office and bolster public trust in anti-corruption efforts,” urged TM.