The Malta Independent 26 June 2019, Wednesday

Proposals to regulate lobbying activities to be drawn up by end of year - Hyzler

Kevin Schembri Orland Wednesday, 10 April 2019, 08:19 Last update: about 4 months ago

Proposals to regulate lobbying activities are being drawn up by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life George Hyzler and will be ready by the end of the year, he told The Malta Independent.

He said that his work on this issue is still in the early days since the first couple of months had been taken up with recruiting staff, establishing working practices, and looking into complaints. “The Standards in Public Life Act sets out the duty of the Commissioner to identify those activities considered to be lobbying activities and in due course I will issue guidelines regarding these activities and will make recommendations which could include the setting up of a lobbyist register.”

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He said that his office is currently in the process of recruiting a senior researcher for this and other areas listed in the law, including changes to codes of ethics, acceptance of gifts, misuse of public resources and confidential information, and revolving doors.

“I’ve already formed some ideas and I need to compare them to what other countries have implemented.”

Partit Demokratiku yesterday said that Malta needs to have “an airtight lobbyist register”, and said that the Commissioner’s duty is to be a prime mover and set the ball rolling. Told this, and asked if he is working on the lobbyist register he said that he is working on proposals for the regulation of lobbying activities, and that a lobbyists' register could form part of his proposals.

Recently, the Council of Europe’s The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), which monitors States’ compliance with the organisation’s anti-corruption standards, issued a report on Malta. In that report, the Standards in Public Life Act was highlighted. The GRECO evaluation team found that the current rules are not specific enough to regulate contacts with lobbyists. They recommended that rules be laid down to govern contacts between persons with top executive functions and lobbyists/third parties that seek to influence the public decision-making process; and the disclosure of such contacts and the subject-matters discussed.

On the issue of the two PN MPs who had met with Yorgen Fenech, he said it is not his policy to comment on reports.

The Sunday Times of Malta last weekend reported that PN MPs Hermann Schiavone and Kristy Debono, who is also the President of the PN’s General Council, had met with Fenech.  The intention of this was to discuss the potential sponsorship of a conference. Answering questions sent by this newsroom, Schiavone said that he had been referred to Yorgen Fenech by another director within Tumas Group, while Debono said that she had not set the meeting up herself and that she had gone to speak to him in his “capacity as official of Tumas Group, in broad daylight and at his official office”. Asked by this newsroom what the conference was to be about, both Debono and Schiavone said that the conference was political in nature but did not elaborate further.

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