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A Critical Analysis Of The Financial Declaration Systems For Public Officials In Oman And Other Jurisdictions. Is There Scope For Reforming The Omani System?

Al Bahri, Sultan Hamed Mohammed (2021) A Critical Analysis Of The Financial Declaration Systems For Public Officials In Oman And Other Jurisdictions. Is There Scope For Reforming The Omani System? Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.

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Abstract or description

A financial declaration system (FD system) is a key anti-corruption instrument, particularly as it is directed at public officials, that has gained broad international recognition, especially since the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2003. The FD system in Oman was adopted in its current form as part of a legislative reform package introduced in 2011. Despite these important changes, there has been no significant study conducted to date of the operation and effectiveness of the legal framework within which the country’s FD system operates, and certainly not in respect of the system’s policy objectives, key mechanisms and operational features. It is this gap in the existing literature, along with the wider aspects that emerge from a comparative analysis of other countries’ disclosure systems, that prompted this research.

This thesis critically evaluates Oman’s FD system. It examines the legal framework and identifies strengths and weaknesses in the system with a view to developing and improving it as an effective anti-corruption mechanism. The study carefully examines the key elements of FD systems including the institutional arrangements of the body responsible for managing them and the scope of coverage of public officials and others, such as family members, who are also subject to disclosure requirements. Furthermore, it examines operational issues, policy implementation and related aspects, for example data checks, and how they are assisted by mechanisms such as ‘whistleblowing’.

As the FD system in Oman is a relatively new one, and there is much to learn from other FD systems’ design and modus operandi, full use is made of the comparative law method, which is essential for the effectiveness of the study, enriching the project and enabling the research to benefit from the experiences of other countries’ systems and operational challenges, some of which are not dissimilar to Oman’s. A comparative analysis of comparable systems, particularly those operating in other Gulf Cooperation Council States, as well as some of the key features of other well-established (but still evolving) systems helps to inform the research and conclusions. The study also makes full use of semi-structured interviews with officials who possess an intimate knowledge and experience of the Omani FD system’s operation. This proves to be an important source, offering invaluable insights into the system’s design, operational characteristics, and strengths and weaknesses. It helps to provide a critical understanding of the significant challenges that Oman faces as it seeks to develop an improved and effective legal framework.

This thesis concludes that Oman's current FD system is not sufficiently regulated and ineffective, primarily due to the weaknesses of the legal framework regulating the FD system's requirements. In particular, there are no comprehensive provisions regulating such requirements. In addition, the current provisions are tainted by certain deficiencies. The most notable shortcomings are: (i) There are no powers and competencies granted to the SAI under Law No. 112/2011 to perform the FD system's tasks, (ii) The law surrounds declarations with a high level of confidentiality to the extent that it hinders the FD Department’s ability to verify declarations on an ongoing and systematic basis, (iii) Officials are not required to submit their declarations periodically and regularly at specific times, such as upon taking office, upon leaving office and periodically while assuming office. Instead, the law gives the SAI's Chairman discretionary power to request declarations, and (iv) Sanctions provided in the law upon violation of the FD requirements are insufficient.
The thesis proposes recommendations that aim to address the weaknesses in the current law and improve the FD system, the most important being the establishment of comprehensive provisions which regulate the FD requirements, whether by making amendments to the current law or enacting a new, dedicated law for the FD system.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: Staffordshire Business School > Business and Marketing
Depositing User: Library STORE team
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2022 14:34
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2022 14:34

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