Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union

Query

Please compile international standards related to separation of powers, conflict of interests and abuse of functions by parliamentarians in national budget processes

Summary

Members of parliament play an important role in approval and oversight of the national budget presented by the ministry of finance. However, questions arise when parliamentarians create a budget line for their own private interests instead of the public’s interest. Various international standards make it clear that, in terms of the principle of separation of power, the task of drawing up the budget rests with the executive and the role of the Parliament includes scrutinising the already drawn-up budget. A conflict of interest arises when the parliamentarians officially vote to approve a financial scheme for their own private interests- which is discouraged by most anti-corruption conventions and parliamentary guidelines. Where the private interest has compromised the proper performance of a public official’s duties, this is known as abuse of functions – which is criminalised by major anti-corruption conventions.

Contents

1.Introduction

2.International standards for parliamentarians

(a) Separation of powers in budget transparency

(b) Conflicts of interest

(c) Abuse of functions

3. Loan schemes for parliamentarians in other jurisdictions

Main points

  • Several international standards such as the High Level Principles of Fiscal Transparency and the IMF’s Fiscal Transparency Code provide that separation of powers between executive and the legislature is important to ensure budget transparency.
  • The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and Economic Community of West African States Protocol on the Fight against Corruption provide measures on regulating conflicts of interest.
  • UNCAC and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption criminalise any abuse of functions for private gain.
  • In countries like Kenya, members of parliament apply for loans, such as car and mortgage loans, similar to other public officials rather than creating a loan scheme from the national budget.

Authors

Jorum Duri, tidelpdesk@transparency.org

Reviewer

Adam Foldes, Transparency International

Date

20/01/2021

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