Asset Declarations, Salaries and Remunerations
An ever-growing number of countries have adopted ethics and anti-corruption laws that require public officials to declare their assets and income and, increasingly, the assets and income of their spouses and dependent children. The officials who are required to declare, and the amount of detail required, vary significantly from country to country. While the requirement to declare income and assets generally is imposed by anti-corruption laws, these laws generally do not require that all of the declared information be made public and indeed some laws only require disclosure to a public agency.
The principal goal of income and asset disclosure systems is to combat corruption. In a growing number of cases, information published in asset declarations has led to the exposure of substantial unjust enrichment. Several countries with detailed disclosure requirements, such as Latvia, have experienced a decline in corruption. Among other benefits, asset disclosure programs enhance the legitimacy of government in the eyes of the public and stimulate foreign direct investment. There is now a growing trend toward requiring financial disclosure by government officials, including publication of asset declarations, in order to combat corruption, foster public confidence in government, and encourage foreign investment.  According to a 2006 World Bank survey of 147 countries that receive World Bank assistance, 101 require senior government officials to declare their income and/or assets, of which some 31 (more than 30%) require that the declarations or a summary thereof be made available to the public. A more extensive World Bank survey of 176 jurisdictions completed in 2012 shows that 137 (78%) have financial disclosure systems. 93% of those countries require disclosure for cabinet members, 91% for Members of Parliament and 62% for high-ranking prosecutors. However, only 43% of countries provide the public with open access to public officials’ financial disclosures.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have greatly expanded the ability to collect and disseminate information about assets and income of public officials. For instance, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Paraguay have been at the forefront of efforts in Latin America to design and create electronic platforms that publish information about government officials’ personal assets (and also about procurement), according to a 2012 report by FUNDAR.
Several court decisions have affirmed that laws that require publication of asset and income declarations do not offend privacy or other fundamental rights. See summaries of relevant cases in the RTI Case Law Database.
An annotated list of publications concerning income and asset declarations may be found on the Publications page. In a related development, in early 2014 Pakistan became the fourth country to make tax records public.
Salaries of Public Officials
Remuneration of Executives and Directors of Public Companies and State-Owned or State-controlled Companies
There is a strong international trend to require disclosure regarding the remuneration of directors and executives of both publicly traded, non-state affiliated companies as well as for SOEs. For instance, the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance call for the disclosure of compensation to individual board members and key executives, termination and retirement provisions, and any specific facility or in-kind remuneration provided to management. The European Union has for several years been working on a model set of disclosure requirements for companies in the EU.
This archived section provides brief summaries of the disclosure regimes in various countries throughout the world. The discussion focuses in part on disclosure requirements applicable to non-state affiliated, publicly traded companies (and not SOEs). However, the disclosure requirements applicable to non-state affiliated, publicly traded companies should apply equally to SOEs where the same issues regarding lack of information, agency conflicts and need for development of best practices in the area of remuneration are just as, if not more, acute.
For instance, according to Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, which measures perceptions of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, Latvia's score has increased from 3.4 out of 10 in 1999 to 4.9 out of 10 in 2012.
 See 2004 O.J. (L 385) 55, 14.12.2004; see also European Union: European Commission, Report on the Application by Member States of the EU of the Commission Recommendation on Directors’ Remuneration, 13 July 2007, SEC (2007) 1022; Statement of the European Corporate Governance Forum on Director Remuneration 1 (March 23, 2009).
You will find detailed country information that is not regularly updated in our Archive.