Press Release: Anticorruption Bill Needs a Thorough Revision

Institute Alternative is urging the lawmakers to amend and thoroughly revise the Anti-Corruption Bill. If passed in its current form, the Bill will not ensure effective prevention of corruption.

The biggest shortcomings of the Bill are the following: imprecise definition of conflict of interest and of the procedures for disclosure of assets of public officials, lack of encouragement of whistleblowers to report corruption, and inefficient Agency powers to combat corruption.

The most powerful mechanism of this Agency, which is planned to be established in 2016, was supposed to be administrative investigation, i.e. the ability of the Agency to freely collect data from the public authorities. However, under the current Bill, Agency is deprived of access to information and documents public authorities refuse to provide.

IA also proposes removing the possibility for a public authority to receive sponsorship (or entering into a sponsorship agreement), and specifying which data are public officials required to disclose in the property cards.

It is also necessary to establish the obligation for the Agency to publish which public officials have (not) given consent to access their financial data. This would highlight positive examples of public officials who have nothing to hide, and provide additional incentive to competent institutions and civil society organizations to investigate the assets of those officials who refused to grant access to their financial data.

Additionally, one of the major shortcomings of the Bill is insufficiently precise definition of conflict of interest, which imposes the need to provide additional guidance to public officials to declare conflict of interest or to the Agency to decide on the conflict of interest. In addition, public officials are not required to disclose personal information about their relatives who do not live with them in the same household, which makes it difficult to explore conflict of interest.

When it comes to encouraging reporting of corruption and protection of whistleblowers, the current Bill has many shortcomings. Although it provides the right to award for whistleblowers who have contributed to generating public revenues or revenues of private companies, the process of exercising this right is left in the hands of public authorities or private legal entities which have generated revenue.

However, IA believes that in cases when reporting of corruption contributed to generating revenues of public authorities, it is necessary to provide possibility for these persons to directly address the Agency in order to collect their prize, paid from the budget of Montenegro.

Finally, the misdemeanour provisions provided by this law are primarily aimed at the public authorities and not at public officials, which is a nonsense. It is obvious that the purpose of the punishment for breaking the law is not achieved by punishing the authority to pay a fine from the budget of the authority in favor of the budget of Montenegro.

Stevo MUK
President of the Managing Board

 

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