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

whistleblower

(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)

Public appointments and Parliament’s responsibilities

Il-Parlament Malti

Two press conferences yesterday evening placed more information relative to the oil commissions scandal in the public domain, just a few hours after two other businessmen were arraigned in Court.

With four men in court on charges of corruption, bribery and money laundering the two press conferences resulted in various other declarations which would result in a queue of resignations in any civilised country.

There seems to be anticipated delight in the pot calling the kettle black.

In this scenario, a number of omissions by those elected to Parliament over the years assume additional significance.

One undoubtedly queries the lack of a Whistleblowers Act which if enacted in accordance with electoral commitments would have established long ago clear parameters to be followed by those divulging information on economic crime (corruption, bribery and money laundering). In its absence we are still dependent of the elected politicians’ use of the instrument of “state evidence” on the basis of ad hoc criteria.

Alternattiva Demokratika yesterday focused on another important point: the manner in which appointments to public office are made. To date the powers of Parliament  have been usurped and transferred to Cabinet such that it is the Prime Minister or his Minsters who appoint  members of Boards or Authorities.

Parliament should reclaim its responsibilities as it should be Parliament that should decide on the appointment of Boards and Authorities of a national importance. Nominated members  of Boards of Public Authorities as well as the senior officials of such Authorities should be scrutinised by Parliament either directly or through its committees in order to ascertain that those nominated can truely serve the country and not the political interests of the political party in government.

Parliament should moreover be in a position to monitor the functions of Boards and Authorities on a continuous basis and should seek explanations from the Boards of Public Authorities and their Senior Executives on their method of operation. Parliament should ensure that whenever the operations of any public authority are scutinised by the Ombudsman his recommendations and their implementation should be discussed by Parliament.

Parliament should reclaim back from government its role of overseeer of the governance of public institutions. Unfortunately over the years a two-party Parliament has siphoned off Parliament’s responsibilities and assigned them to a government made out of just one political party.

AD in Parliament will ensure that Parliament reclaims back its functions and holds government to account continuously.

Originally published in di-ve.com on 22nd February 2013

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.

L-iskandlu tal-Mistra min kixfu?

Matul dawn l-aħħar jiem intqal ħafna dwar min seta kien jew ma kienx dak li saffar is-suffara (il-whistleblower) dwar l-iskandlu tal-Mistra.

Issa qed jintqal li kien uffiċjal tal-PN li wassal il-kuntratt tal-Mistra lill-Alfred Sant.

Issa jiena ngħid il-verita’ thawwadt ftit għax Alfred Sant dan l-aħħar kien ċar ħafna dwar kif wasal għandu l-kuntratt.  Sant kien ikkwotat li qal hekk :

“Kieku ma kienx għal whistleblower kuraġġuż fis-sistema pubblika li tqażżes jara l-mod kif il-korruzzjoni u l-abbuż tal-poter kienu qed jintużaw lejliet l-elezzjoni bi sfreġju kbir għall-ambjent Malti, kieku l-istorja ma kinitx tasal għandi.”

Kieku jieqaf it-taħwid fit-tixrid tal-informazzjoni jkun ta’ ġid għal kulhadd!

L-aħħar punt. L-iskandlu ma nħoloqx bil-kuntratt. Il-kuntratt u l-qliegħ li kien ser ikun ġġenerat hu biss l-effett. L-abbuż sar fil-MEPA fil-mod kif ġie ipproċessat il-permess. Kif saru laqgħat bil-magħluq. Bi pressjoni u SMSs galore sakemm rakkomandazzjoni għar-rifjut ta’ permess ġiet mibdul biex il-permess inħareg. Ħalliha li wara l-elezzjoni a bażi ta’ rapport tal-Audit Officer tal-istess MEPA dan il-permess ġie irtirat.

Tajjeb li nżommu perspettiva realistika tal-affarijiet.

Iż-Żmien jagħtina parir

 

Ir-riżenja ta’JPO mill-Partit Nazzjonalista ma tibdel xejn min-numri Parlamentari. Fil-fatt JPO innifsu iddikjara li dwar materji li hemm fil-programm elettorali ser ikun lejali lejn l-elettorat li eleġġieh u jappoġġa tali proposti.

Dak imma iħalli għad-diskussjoni materji li m’humiex fil-programm elettorali, u nafu li minn dawn hemm ħafna.

Il-Liġi dwar il-Koabitazzjoni, il-Liġi dwar l-IVF, il-Liġi dwar il-Whistleblower m’humiex fil-programm elettorali tal-PN biex insemmi biss tlett miżuri.

U xi ngħidu dwar miżuri li jistgħu jkunu neċessarji fil-budget? Avolja huwa improbabbli li lejlet l-elezzjoni ġenerali  jkun hemm xi miżura iebsa.

Jibqa’ mbagħad miżuri partikolari li jistgħu jittieħdu biex jaġevolaw lil xi ħadd partikolari. Jekk dawn jitressqu għall-iskrutinju tal-Parlament membru parlamentari Indipendenti jħossu liberu dwar dak li għandu jagħmel, nittama. Iż-żmien jagħtina parir.

Dan kollu meta nikkunsidraw il-posizzjoni ta’ JPO. Għad irridu naraw dik ta’ oħrajn !

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/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Meta l-Istituzzjonijiet Ifallu ………

                  castille.jpg           marsaskala11.jpg

 

Għandi nippubblika r-rapport dwar l-impjant tar-riċiklaġġ ta’ Sant Antnin f’Marsaskala jew kif qal Lawrence Gonzi għandi nħalli f’idejn l-istituzzjonijiet ?

 

X’istituzzjonijiet ?

 

Il-MEPA oġġezzjonat li jkun ippubblikat għax qalet li dan jippreġudika l-posizzjoni tagħha. Il-MEPA nistaqsi mhux suppost li qegħda hemm biex tiddefendi lill-komunita kollha, u allura għax qed tipprova taħbi mill-istess komunita’ rapport li jitfa dawl kif taħdem hi ?

 

Il-Perit Joe Falzon Awditur tal-MEPA iddeplora d-dikjarazzjoni tiegħi li ser nippubblika ir-rapport. Għandi rispett kbir lejn il-Perit Falzon. Id-dikjarazzjoni tiegħu hi motivata mir-rispett lejn l-istituzzjonijiet. Jibqa’ jirrispetthom anke meta jaf li fallew.

L-Ombudsman fuq talba tal-MEPA qal li jkun xieraq li r-rapport jibqa’ mistur.

 

F’ċirkustanzi normali dan l-argument huwa wieħed validu. Fejn l-istituzzjonijiet jimxu sewwa u jaqdu l-funzjonijiet tagħhom dan huwa atteġġjament validu. Imma fil-każ in eżami fejn l-istituzzjonijiet huma f’kompliċita biex jgħattu u jaħbu għandi l-obbligu morali li nikxef. Dan nagħmlu b’sens ta’ responabbilta’.

  

Matul il-ġimgħat li għaddew kelli diversi talbiet biex noħroġ ir-rapport mingħajr ma nidher. Stajt għamilt hekk imma għażilt li r-rapport nippubblikah jien biex nerfa’ r-responabbilta kollha għal din l-azzjoni.

  

L-opposizzjoni għall-pubblikazzjoni ta’ dan ir-rapport min-naħa tal-Gvern turi kemm id-dikjarazzjonijiet favur trasparenza u d-dritt għall-informazzjoni huma finta.

  

It-48 siegħa jagħlqu illum il-Ġimgħa 15 ta’ Frar 2008 fil-5.30pm. F’xi ħin għada matul il-jum tas-Sibt ir-rapport ikun ippubblikat u jkun jista’ jinqara fuq il-website tal-Alternattiva Demokratika.