Candidates must file the market value of their assets in their election affidavits, said Bhaskar Assoldekar, co-ordinator, Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), on Wednesday.

Addressing presspersons and others at a voters’ sensitisation programme ahead of the Goa Assembly 2017 elections, organised in association with the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), the Goa-co-ordinator of ADR, the body spearheading the cause of transparency in electoral democracy, said that during the ADR’s recent interactions with Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and Election Commissioners, the issue of assets and liabilities was discussed. Often, it has been found during analysis of affidavits that the candidates file cost value of the assets which is of no use to assess the financial position of a candidate or compare the change in his\her financial position over a period of time. He further said that if a Returning Officer (RO) finds that any candidate has left a single column of the affidavit blank, the RO is required to give a reminder to the candidate at the time of scrutiny and if it still continues to be blank, then the nomination is liable to be rejected during scrutiny.

ADR will soon hold a sensitisation programme for ROs in Goa about all these aspects.

Mr Assoldekar said that the ADR had written to the Deputy Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly (as the Speaker was away) to make available online information such as the number of days of business conducted by the Goa Legislative Assembly during the present term, the number of questions asked by members during each session, etc, so as to assess their performance ahead of the election. Mr Assoldekar impressed upon Goa Deputy Speaker Vishnu Wagh during their meeting on Tuesday that at present, this information could be obtained only through an RTI query.

The letter written to the Deputy Speaker also requests him to persuade the MLAs to file annual statements of their assets and liabilities with the Legislative Secretariat.

It was pointed out during the interaction that though the MLAs and Ministers as public servants are bound to file annual statements of assets and liabilities with the Lokayukta office, the information is not available to the public as the Lokayukta office says they have to hand over the same to a public authority (State Governor\Chief Minister) as per the Lokayukta Act.

The ADR urged the civil society and media to join hands to conduct audits of the performance of MLAs, so that voters could be more informed.

ADR urges civil society and media to join hands to conduct audit of the performance of MLAs

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