[EDITORIALS]A fair decision on blind trusts

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[EDITORIALS]A fair decision on blind trusts

Of the 157 legislators in the National Assembly who serve on economy-related committees, 59 of them, or 37.6 percent, own stocks. What’s more, 14 of them hold shares in companies that are affected by their committees’ activities. This demonstrates that legislators have the opportunity to make use of information acquired in the execution of their official duties to increase their personal fortunes.
The blind trust system was createdto prevent such misuse of information. The use of blind trusts is recommended in the anti-corruption social pact that was signed recently by politicians, businessmen and other leaders of society. In April, the governing Uri Party intends to pass a new Public Service Ethics Act, introducing a blind trust system. The Grand National Party has not raised an objection.
Accordingly, the Uri Party established a committee for implementing the anti-corruption pact, which held its first meeting a few days ago. At that meeting, it is said, discussion centered on the scope of the blind trust system. It was decided real estate would be included as well as stock, but that the committee would study ways to keep trustees from selling assets on their own. This, the committee explained, was because the sales of assets without consent could violate the Consitutiton.
We think the committee made a resonable decision. As the Uri Party explained, disposing of assets under trust would be in gross violation of the private property rights guaranteed by the Constitution. For that reason, we think the rule must also apply to stock owned by high-ranking civil servants.
While these officials hold public posts, we think it is right that they should be barred from exercising their property rights, as well as voting rights, where their shares are concerned. The possibility of abuse of power here is very high.
But trustees should be barred from disposing of assets of their own accord. If they are allowed to sell private property without the owner’s consent, it would be a clear violation of the Constitution. In particular, it is necessary to give legal consideration to officials who took on their posts before the blind trust system was introduced. We must study whether forcing officials to sell their shares is the only way to ensure fairness and objectivity from public officials. We think it is possible to guarantee that fairness without violating the consitutional rights of individuals.

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