(photo credit: Courtesy/Regavim)
A bill making it mandatory for judges and other senior non-elected government officials to submit a declaration of assets received the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s approval Sunday.
The proposal by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi), which has support from parties in both the coalition and opposition, would make the treatment of judges, state attorneys, top police officers and other senior appointed local and national government officials equal to that of MKs and ministers in that they all would have to detail their assets in confidential reports.
“Senior officials, like those who are elected, face pressures and can end up in situations of conflicts of interests,” Smotrich said. “Therefore, a confidential declaration of assets is the minimum necessary in order to ensure good governance and strengthen the public’s trust in senior bureaucrats.”
The Bayit Yehudi MK added that he gives people the benefit of the doubt that they are working in the public’s interest but, at the same time, laws are necessary to make people less tempted to do wrong and the same rules should apply to senior officials who are elected and those who are not.
“This step will strengthen us as a society and help prevent irregularities and lack of good governance in the public service,” he stated.
The Movement for Governability and Democracy’s Director Yehuda Amrani said the bill is an important step in fighting corruption.
“The danger of corruption and harm to integrity is greater among bureaucrats and judges because the work of elected officials is mostly open and transparent,” Amrani explained. “Senior bureaucrats and judges have the access and ability to make decisions in significant and fateful matters but, somehow, to this day, they were exempted from submitting a declaration of assets.”
Also Sunday, the ministers voted to close a loophole in the “Popcorn Law,” which is meant to allow people to bring their own refreshments to movie theaters and sports arenas, thus encouraging owners of these establishments to lower the prices of food and drinks.
The bill by MK Tali Ploskov (Kulanu) changed the current language of the law, which allowed movie theaters and stadium owners to legally stop patrons from bringing refreshments by claiming that the food services were provided by someone else.
Ploskov said the bill will be a “serious step forward in lowering the prices of food and drink in theaters and stadiums.”
“I’m pleased to say that soon everyone will be able to bring in food and drink of the same kind sold in the place, and thus fight the high prices in these locations. I believe that we will feel the difference in the prices very soon,” she added.