16 June 2016
Several Lithuanian state institutions looked at government ethics, public sector integrity and transparency issues in a meeting with OECD experts on a fact-finding mission to the country in the context of Lithuania’s ongoing accession process to the organization. The meeting was held in the headquarters of the Chief Official Ethics Commission of Lithuania (COEC) and attended by Central Electoral Commission (CEC), Commission for Ethics and Procedures of the Seimas (CEPS), Committee on State Administration and Local Authorities of the Seimas (CSALAS), Ministry of Finance, National Audit Office and Public Procurement Office (PPO).
OECD experts took interest in measures applied by the institutions to fight and prevent corruption as well as means to ensure transparency in the public sector.
Zenonas Vaigauskas, the Chairman of the CEC stressed that the measures employed in their practice on a daily basis include both soft and hard ones. He also addressed the importance of having tangible results in monitoring the funding of electoral campaigns and political parties. “We drew criticism for not being able to disclose financial reports in the run-up to the election. We had previously made an attempt to do that, however, it brought in a lot of confusion, so we did not continue. The current timeframe for financial reports provides with guarantees for quality and meticulousness. Upon securing their funding, participants of the campaign are obliged to disclose the data over the following ten days. As the law stands, we make information on the donations and the donors public, with the exception of rather modest amounts of money (less than 12 EUR), in which case the donors are left undisclosed. All this provides electorate with a clear view on who sponsors who and if the amount of publicity in the media corresponds with the amount of funds obtained“, Z. Vaigauskas said.
In the run-up to Lithuanian parliamentary election this autumn, chairmen of county election commissions will undergo an anti-corruption training. CEC will also draw up a code of ethics for election commissioners as well as one for observers. The latter will consist of relevant legal provisions and additional requirements concerning politeness, dress code and so forth. Furthermore, in the process of implementing the National Anti-Corruption Programme, CEC will bring forward additional proposals on perfecting provisions for financial reports of political parties and for evaluating non-monetary donations.
Milda Petrauskiene, the CSALAS vice-chairman, who ran the action group for drafting amendments to the Law on Lobbying Activities, told the experts of the OECD that following intense public discussions, the bill will finally be brought before Parliament. „The bill has gone through extensive changes until we got to its current version. The main idea behind the proposal for the new law is to be absolutely clear on who is responsible for what, when it comes to lobbying, and to widen the concept of a lobbyist. We believe that new provisions must apply to all the parties concerned, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs). We acted on recommendations by the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) and OECD while working on new provisions“, said M. Petrauskiene.
The vice-chairman of CSALAS also took note of new amendments to other laws that were adopted this year and made a positive contribution to promoting transparency in various aspects of statesmanship: Law on the Chief Official Ethics Commission, Law on Local Self-Government, Law on the Adjustment of Public and Private Interests in Civil Service and so forth. M. Petrauskiene also placed a great emphasis on the importance of activities of Lithuanian municipal ethics commissions and ways to improve their efectiveness.
OECD experts took an interest in whether or not members of Parliament will undergo a training on work ethic once they are elected to the Seimas this autumn. CEPS informed that at the beginning of their term of office the MPs will be supplied with comprehensive manuals containing the required information along with advice on filing declarations of private interests. Rasa Geciene, a representative for CEPS, added that MPs often ask for guidance on filing their declarations of private interests and on preventing conflicts of interests.
Representatives of PPO informed that a new declaration of transparency form is underway, which will steer clear those involved in public procurement procedures of any possible conflicts of interests. It should come accross as an electronic system integrating data from other state institutions, thus providing PPO with a possibility to cross-check the information presented in declarations of transparency.
On Monday COEC welcomed OECD experts on a fact-finding mission to the country in the context of Lithuania’s ongoing accession process to the organization. On this occasion, COEC is acting as a coordinating body in the field of public sector integrity arranging meetings with other state institutions operating within the field and engaging them in the information sharing process.