The Malta Independent 5 August 2020, Wednesday

All ministries should have transparency register – Standards Commissioner

Friday, 28 February 2020, 21:21 Last update: about 6 months ago

Ministers, parliamentary secretaries and some other designated public officials should be barred from acting as lobbyists for a specified period after they cease to hold office, Standards Commissioner George Hyzler has proposed.

The Standards Commissioner has also proposed that all ministries should have a transparency register, and that there should be a code of conduct for lobbyists.

The consultation paper builds on the practice recently adopted by Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, who has committed himself to publishing a register of his meetings with stakeholders.

ADVERTISEMENT

The term 'lobbying' refers to efforts by private individuals and entities to influence government decision-making in their favour. Lobbying is a concern in many countries because, if it is not regulated, it can result in private interests gaining excessive influence over government decision-making, to the detriment of the general public, Hyzler said in a statement.

The aim of the proposals is to increase transparency and improve standards of governance, and to minimise trading in influence, which is a crime.

The Commissioner is proposing that lobbying should be regulated by means of a new law to be titled the Regulation of Lobbying Act.

This Act would define lobbying as any "relevant communication" on "relevant matters" to "designated public officials".

The paper proposes that all individuals and bodies that carry out lobbying should be governed by a code of conduct. In addition, some of these individuals and bodies should be required to register in a Register of Lobbyists that would be maintained by the Commissioner for Standards. These lobbyists should submit regular returns on their activities.

Furthermore, the paper proposes that ministers, parliamentary secretaries, and the heads and deputy heads of their secretariats should register all relevant communications (including meetings) in a Transparency Register which would be accessible to the public.

The Commissioner is also proposing that ministers, parliamentary secretaries and some other designated public officials should be barred from acting as lobbyists for a specified period after they cease to hold office. "This would prevent private actors from gaining privileged access to government decisionmaking through senior officials who have recently left office."

Finally, the paper proposes that there should be a minister responsible for the administration of the Act, in keeping with normal practice, but the Act should be enforced by the Standards Commissioner.

The Commissioner should have the power to impose administrative penalties, subject to review by the courts.

 

 


  • don't miss