Lobbying: influencing decision-taking

 

what to do

Lobbying risks corruption. Establishing clear standards of acceptable behaviour in public life ought to include the regulation of lobbying, yet the Standards in Public Life Bill currently pending on the Parliament’s agenda ignores this important matter completely.

Potentially, lobbying is not a dirty matter. It is perfectly legitimate for any citizen, group of citizens, corporations or even NGOs to seek to influence decision-taking. It is done continuously and involves the communication of views and information to legislators and administrators by those who have an interest in informing them of the impacts of the decisions under consideration.  It is perfectly legitimate that individuals, acting on their own behalf or else acting on behalf of third parties, should seek to ensure that decision-takers are well informed before taking the required decisions. Obviously, lobbying should not be the process through which the decision-takers make way for the representatives of corporations to take their place.

I am not aware of the reason why the Parliamentary Select Committee, led by Hon Speaker Anġlu Farrugia, failed to identify lobbying as a matter which requires regulation within the framework of the Standards in Public Life Bill. Perusal of the final report dated 24 March 2014, as well as the minutes of the Select Committee, does not reveal any indication that the matter was ever even mentioned in the Select Committee’s deliberations. In fact in my opinion, perusal of Parliament’s Motion 77, which contains the Select Committee’s terms of reference, indirectly includes lobbying as one of the matters which had to be examined.

Lobbying requires a considerable dose of transparency. It needs to be unchained from the shackles of secrecy. In other jurisdictions this is done through actively disclosing lobbying activities, thereby placing them under the spotlight of public opinion. The public has a right to know who is seeking to influence the decision-taking process and this helps ensure that lobbying is not used as a tool to secretly derail or deflect political decisions.

Other jurisdictions require that lobbying activities are documented and that the official being lobbied is always accompanied. Subsequently a list of lobbying meetings and the resulting documentation is released or made available. Such disclosure is normal in various democracies.

Lobbying can be regulated in two ways: by regulating the lobbyist activities and by regulating the potential recipient of lobbying.

The activities of the lobbyist can be regulated either through a compulsory registration of lobbyists or else through a regular disclosure of the names of those carrying out lobbying activities.

On the other hand, the potential recipient of lobbying ought to be regulated through a disclosure of all information related to lobbying, including minutes of meetings as well as any memoranda exchanged or submitted for the consideration of the decision-taker.

Full transparency is undoubtedly the best tool which – together with guidelines on the permissible receipt of gifts as well as whistle-blowing – will reduce the risk of lobbying being transformed into an instrument of corruption.

This is not all. Malta also requires rules that regulate the lobbying that is carried out through revolving-door recruitment. At times, this is the easiest way in which special interest groups recruit former Ministers, as well as the former high ranking civil servants regulating them, immediately on concluding their term of office. In this manner, they seek to tap contacts and quasi-direct access to or knowledge of information of extreme sensitivity. It also happens in reverse, when the public sector recruits lobbyists directly into the civil service without first having allowed sufficient time for cooling off so that former lobbyists thus recruited risk being Trojan horses in the public sector areas which previously regulated them.

If we are really serious about tackling corruption at its roots, it would be better if the need to regulate lobbying is urgently considered. Together with legislation on the financing of political parties just approved by Parliament (even if this is defective, as I have explained elsewhere), the regulation of lobbying would create a better tool-kit in the fight against corruption.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 26 July 2015

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Mill-Manifest Elettorali ta’ AD dwar bidliet fil-Kostituzzjoni : (5) Ħarsien u Protezzjoni

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(5)     Ħarsien u Protezzjoni

Il-Libertà tal-Informazzjoni, l-Protezzjoni tad-Dejta u d-drittijiet tal-whistleblowers għandhom jiġu ddefiniti kif xieraq u inkorporati fil-Kostituzzjoni.

(silta mill-Kapitlu Numru 6 tal-Programm Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika)

Qabel ma tfaċċa Franco Debono

L-Onorevoli Franco Debono donnu jaħseb li qabel ma tfaċċa hu ħadd qatt ma tkellem dwar il-liġijiet elettorali u l-finanzjament tal-partiti.  Fil-fatt fil-blogpost tiegħu tat-8 ta’ Settembru 2012 qalilna :

“If AD had any sort of rudimentary strategy they would take up my proposals for reform in the electoral law and party financing instead of playing Austin Gatt s game who has been against both.” [Nota miżjuda t-Tnejn 10 ta’ Settembru 2012: il-blogpost hawn fuq ikkwotata jista’ jkun hemm diffikultajiet dwarha għax għal xi hin illum tneħħiet minn fuq il-blog ta’ Franco Debono. Ma kien hemm l-ebda spjegazzjoni għal dan.]

Tajjeb li jkun jaf li id-dinja kienet teżisti ħafna qabel ma tfaċċa Franco Debono.

Alternattiva Demokratika ilha titkellem fuq dawn l-issues (liġijiet elettorali u finanzjament tal-Partiti) għal snin twal u dan flimkien ma issues oħra bħall-Whistleblowers Act u FOI (Freedom of Information Act) sa mit-twaqqif tagħha fl-1989.

Ikun aħjar li kienu min jtkellem u/jew jikteb jiċċekkja ftit l-affarijiet qabel ma jħarbex jew jiftaħ ħalqu.

Il-Posta ……………. fil-Kanada

 

  

 

Il-Posta fil-Canada ippubblikat l-ewwel rapport tagħha dwar ir-responsabbilta soċjali. Dan ir-rapport huwa intitolat Acting Responsibly. Social Responsibility Report 2007.

Huwa rapport importanti għax fil-qasam tas-settur pubbliku ftit hemm rapporti ta’ din ix-xorta.

Bħal kull CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) report ieħor dan ir-rapport ifittex jispjega kif l-operat tal-Posta fil-Canada qed jaġixxi biex ikollu impatti soċjali u ambjentali pożittivi. Ir-rapport ifittex li janalizza l-ħidma tal-posta Kanadiża fid-dawl tal-prinċipji tas-sostenibilita’: ċjoe li l-ħidma tal-posta m’għandiex tkun biss waħda vijabbli ekonomikament iżda għandha tfittex ukoll il-ġid soċjali tal-komunita’ li fiha hi preżenti, kif ukoll li għandha tassigura li l-impatti ambjentali tagħha jkunu l-minimu possibli. Ir-rapport jittratta ukoll materji ta’ etika.

Bħal kull CSR report ieħor dan ir-rapport tal-Posta Kanadiża jikkonsidra kemm l-operat intern tal-posta innifisha, il-mod kif taħdem u kif tittratta l-impjegati tagħha (saħħa u sigurta’ fuq il-post tax-xogħol, relazzjonijiet industrijali), il-policy interna ta’ whistleblowing   bħala deterrent għal abbużi li jistgħu jinqalgħu minn żmien għal żmien, il-politika dwar id-diversita’ fuq il-post tax-xogħol, ir-rispett lejn id-drittijiet umani kif ukoll dak li jissejjaħ disability management, jiġifieri l-mod kif fuq il-post tax-xogħol il-posta Kanadiża tfittex li tgħin lil min iweġġa’ jew ikollu disabilita u per konsegwenza ma jkunx jista’ jagħmel ix-xogħol kollu normali tiegħu.

Filwaqt li jitkellem dwar id-donazzjonijiet u sponsorships  ir-rapport jiffoka fuq l-għajnuna li l-Posta Kanadiża tagħti lill-għaqdiet li jaħdmu fuq l-issue tas-saħħa mentali.

 

Kif mistenni parti importanti mir-rapport jiffoka fuq l-impatti ambjentali tal-posta, fuq ir-riċiklaġġ tal-iskart, fuq l-impatti klimatiċi tal-ħidma tal-posta u fuq kif il-bini minn fejn topera l-posta qed ikun iddisinjat ħalli jnaqqas l-impatt negattiv fuq l-ambjent (green design).

It-target tal-posta kanadiża huwa li fuq perjodu ta’ 10 snin inaqqas l-emissjonijiet ta’ greenhouse gases b’14% fuq dawk tal-2002. Il-Canada għandha waħda mill-iżgħar densitajiet ta’ popolazzjoni fid-dinja (ftit iktar minn 3 persuni għal kull kilometru kwadru) u allura huwa ftit diffiċli li tilħaq targets għoljin għal tnaqqis ta’ konsum ta’ fuel. F’dan il-kuntest allura tipprova tinkoraġixxi lill-impjegati tagħha biex ifittxu metodi alternattivi dwar kif imorru x-xogħol, bil-bicycle jew bil-mixi fost oħrajn.

Dan it-tip ta’ rapport huwa ta’ għajnuna kbira għall-komunita li fih isir. Għax barra li matul is-sena tkun saret ħidma siewja, wara jgħin biex din il-ħidma titqiegħed taħt il-lenti bl-iskop li għas-sena ta’ wara tkun aħjar.

 

U aħna f’Malta? Bħas-soltu għadna lura. Dwar is-CSR inpaċpċu ħafna, iżda nieqfu hemm. 

ara ukoll fuq dan il-blog :   

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/04/11/bovs-csr-the-next-step/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/04/07/csr-day/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ir-Riforma tal-MEPA : (6) Konklużjoni

Matul dawn l-aħħar jiem fuq dan il-blog fissirt fehmti dwar l-aspetti prinċipali li naħseb illi riforma tal-MEPA għandha tindirizza.

L-ebda riforma m’hi ser tirnexxi jekk dawk li eventwalment iridu jamministrawha ma jħaddnux bis-serjeta’ l-prinċipji ta’ trasparenza u kontabilita. Il-ħidma kollha trid tkun fil-beraħ, u kulħadd irid jagħti kont ta’ egħmilu. Miż-żgħir nett sal-kbir nett, bla eċċezzjoni.

Riforma tal-MEPA biex tkun effettiva tirrikjedi ukoll miżuri oħra, li mad-daqqa t’għajn jistgħu għal uħud jidhru li ma tantx għandhom x’jaqsmu. Dan irid jinvolvi liġi li tirregola l-finanzjament tal-politika, t-twessiegħ tad-dritt għal informazzjoni (presentement eżistenti b’mod limitat) u liġi li tipproteġi lil min jikxef l-irregolaritajiet, ċjoe Whisteblowers Act.

Mhux kulħadd jistenna l-istess riżultat mill-MEPA. L-industrija tal-bini w l-iżviluppaturi jistennew li l-permessi ta’ żvilupp ikunu f’idejhom malajr u mingħajr ħafna mistoqsijiet. Ir-residenti u l-ambjentalisti jistennew li joħorġu inqas permessi kif ukoll li tonqos l-art li tingħata għall-bini.

Ir-realta’ hi li l-MEPA m’għandhiex tibqa’ tiġi meqjusa bħala magna tal-permessi tal-iżvilupp, iżda ta’ tarka tal-komunita li tinkuraġixxi dejjem żvilupp li jkun sostenibbli. Jiġifieri dik il-ħidma li meta sseħħ, filwaqt li tkattar il-ġid ekonomiku, ttejjeb l-infrastruttura soċjali u tkun kompatibbli (il-ħin kollu) mal-wirt ambjentali tagħna u mal-eko-sistema li minnha niffurmaw parti.

Imma dan ma jikkuntentax lil kulħadd. Għalhekk isiru kemm isiru riformi l-MEPA ser tibqa’ kontroversjali.

F’dan il-kuntest naħseb illi riforma tal-MEPA għandha fl-istadju inizzjali tindirizza s-segwenti :

  1. il-ħtieġa li l-Ministru responsabbli għaliha jagħraf jagħti direzzjoni filwaqt li jeżiġi kontabilita’ sħiħa mingħajr ma jindaħal fil-ħidma ta’ kuljum,
  2. in-neċessita’ li l-ħidma tal-MEPA tkun sorveljata kontinwament biex min hu responsabbli għaliha jagħti kont ta’ egħmilu kuljum, dan jgħodd kemm għal politiku kif ukoll għat-tekniku,
  3. il-ħatra ta’ l-aħjar nies; issa dan hu ftit diffiċli minħabba li mhux kuħadd huwa lest li jagħti servizz pubbliku; il-kompetenza mhux il-fehma politika għandha tkun ir-riga li biha jitkejlu n-nies li jintagħżlu;
  4. il-kunflitt ta’ interess għandu jkun indirizzat minnufih, preferibilment jiġi evitat, u m’għandux jitħalla jakkumula b’mod li eventwalment jhedded il-kredibilita’ ta’ kulħadd inkluż ta’ l-istituzzjoni nnifisha.

Emendi fil-liġijiet jistgħu jkunu neċessarji iżda l-parti l-kbira tad-diffikultajiet tas-snin passati jistgħu jkunu indirizzati b’suċċess kemm-il darba jistabu l-persuni addattati.

Għalkemm jidher li hemm il-volonta’ li dan isir, huwa ż-żmien li ser jagħtina parir.

  

(tmiem)  

Open Government : A Green Choice

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Open government : A Green choice

Saturday’s election will determine the composition of Parliament and subsequently a government which enjoys the confidence of the elected MPs who will be entrusted with overseeing the workings of government and ensuring its accountability.Since 1966, members of Parliament in Malta have belonged to just two political parties. The only exception resulted from the expulsion of Wenzu Mintoff from the MLP Parliamentary Group in the late 1980s, which led to the formation of Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green party in Malta.In my view, MPs on the government side have throughout the years had considerable difficulty in holding their colleagues to account for the simple reason that loyalty to party assumed priority over loyalty to country. If this were not so Parliament would have forced the hand of many a Prime Minister over the past 42 years.The Maltese Greens are once more proposing three initiatives which will lay the foundations for an open government in Malta thereby making it easier for Parliament to act and hold the government continuously to account. These are the introduction of a Freedom of Information Act, a Whistleblowers Act and legislation to regulate the financing of political parties. (Prior to implementing these proposals, a reform of Mepa cannot be carried out adequately.)Other parties have also taken up these proposals. This is more than welcome as it may eventually be part of the policy overlap on the basis of which a coalition agreement can be negotiated next week when the first Green MPs make it to Malta’s Parliament.As a general rule, information on the activities of the state and its organs should be freely available. Active disclosure of information without awaiting a demand for its release should be the norm. Exceptions should be limited and well defined. These would include matters impinging on the security of the state and the privacy of individual citizens. Accountability of the government towards Parliament as well as towards the electorate can only be ensured if information on its activities flows immediately, freely and constantly.

The enactment of a Whistleblower Act will ensure that “the conspiracy of silence” which shores up pockets of irregular activity, mismanagement, corruption as well as general abuse of authority is spotlighted through the granting of immunity from criminal and civil action to those who reveal information that would otherwise remain secret.

Regulating the funding of political parties would ensure that reasonable donations would be registered and made public whilst substantial donations (even under the guise of loans as the recent Blair experience in the UK has indicated) would be outlawed. This would reduce the possibility that donors would pay their way through thereby enriching themselves at the taxpayers’ expense.

One-party government has failed to introduce these measures and thereby has done this country a disservice. Election of the first Green MPs on Saturday will reverse this and lay the foundations for an open government.

It is the only realistic choice. It is available if you vote for it on Saturday.

Mr Cacopardo will be contesting Saturday’s general election on a Green ticket on the third and 11th electoral districts.

cacopardocarm@euroweb.net.mt

This article is published in The Times today Thursday 6th March 2008

Koalizzjoni = Gvern ta’ Kulħadd u għal Kulħadd

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L-Alternattiva Demokratika ma ivvintatx il-kelma koalizzjoni. Iżda għamlet użu minnha f’din il-kampanja elettorali biex twassal messaġġ politiku qawwi. Messaġġ li wasal u li qiegħed jinftiehem.

Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni jfisser Gvern magħmul minn iktar minn Partit wieħed. Gvern allura li għandu viżjoni politika iktar wiesa’ minn dik tal-Gvernijiet li bħala pajjiż aħna mdorrijin bihom.

Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni jkollu politika li tagħti każ tal-aspirazzjonijiet ta’ kulħadd mill-perspettiva tal-partiti politiċi li jiffurmaw il-koalizzjoni. Huwa Gvern li ma jarmi lil ħadd għax kulħadd huwa validu, kulħadd għandu kontribut. Il-kontribut ta’ kulħadd huwa apprezzat.

Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni ma jarmix nofs il-popolazzjoni biex jaqdi parti min-nofs l-ieħor. Iżda jservi lill-popolazzjoni kollha. Biex jagħti dan is-servizz jagħmel użu mit-talenti ta’ kulħadd. Kulħadd jista’ jagħti kontribut biex dan il-pajjiż jimxi l-quddiem. Mhux biss dawk li jivvutaw lill-partiti li jiffurmaw il-koalizzjoni.     

Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni huwa l-unika garanzija li dan il-pajjiż jista’ jkollu li l-vendikazzjonijiet u d-diskriminazzjoni politika ma jibqawx għodda ta’ amministrazzjoni politika f’dan il-pajjiż.

Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni jfisser li l-ebda partit politiku waħdu ma jkollu iktar il-poter assolut f’dan il-pajjiż. Il-poter assolut jikkorrompi l-istituzzjonijiet u jirrendihom servi ta’ partit u mhux iktar tal-pajjiż.

  

Hawn min qiegħed ixerred il-biża’ kontra l-idea ta’ Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni. Fir-realta’ biża kbira qed issaltan fost dawk li bi Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni ma jkunx iktar possibli għalihom li jibqgħu jiġbdu l-ispag u b’hekk imexxu l-pajjiż minn wara l-kwinti.

  

Il-pedamenti tal-ħidma politika ta’ Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni huwa għalhekk li jkollna Gvern miftuħ (open government), trasparenti u li jagħti kont ta’ egħmilu il-ħin kollu, kull jum tal-eżistenza tiegħu. Fost il-miżuri basiċi li l-Alternattiva qed tipproponi hemm liġi dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti, li jiġi stabilit darba għal dejjem id-dritt tal-informazzjoni kif ukoll li tingħata l-protezzjoni (permezz ta’ Whistleblower Act) lil min jikxef il-ħmieġ u l-irregolaritajiet fl-amministrazzjoni pubblika.

  

Dawn huma l-pedamenti ta’ Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni li ser ikollna fi ftit jiem oħra. Gvern li jkun ta’ kulħadd u li jservi lil kulħadd.