June 16, 2016, Vilnius
Representatives for several Lithuanian NGOs expressed their attitudes towards public sector integrity in the country. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) experts on a fact-finding mission to the country in the context of Lithuania’s ongoing accession process to the organization posed questions about the effectiveness of measures for implementing the National Anti-Corruption Programme, regulation on lobbying activities, situation in the field of public procurement as well as initiatives for promoting transparency in other fields.
Dr. Raimundas Kalesnykas, the chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Association (NACA), opened the discussion with remarks on low efficiency of the chief coordinating institution for controlling the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Programme (NACP). “The Inter-Agency Commission on Coordination of the Fight Against Corruption (IACCFAC) should engage in an ongoing monitoring and secure strategic guidelines for implementing the NACP, yet the actual monitoring is only done by the Special Investigations Service, Transparency International Lithuania (TIL) and other organizations. IACCFAC, which is made up of politicians and public servants, needs to be reorganized by incorporating members from the public in its activities”, R. Kalesnykas said.
The remarks were complemented by his colleague, prof. dr. Rysardas Burda, the board member of NACA. “The latest NACP is rated rather highly by criminologists, yet its fundamental shortcoming is that NGOs and members of the public are only scarcely included”, R. Burda said, adding that there is a lack of political will to pass the Law on Whistleblower Protection and to tackle the issues of financing of political parties.
The representatives for the NGOs favored the intentions to adopt new provisions on lobbying activities, yet expressed their concerns about their implementation into practice.
“There are only 36 official lobbyists in Lithuania at the moment, however, the Parliament is swirling with large numbers of those trying to exercise their influence over lawmaking process. The new bill has its positive sides, i.e., it introduces a simplified procedure of declaration of meetings with lobbyists, incorporates NGOs and so forth. Still, we are not sure how the new provisions will be put to practice. In my opinion, a sub-statutory legal act could bring more clarity to the whole situation”, Paulius Murauskas, a representative for Transparency International Lithuania, said.
OECD experts asked the representatives of the NGOs to share their opinion on the issues concerning financing of political parties. “In our opinion, the financial reports that are submitted to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) have often little to do with reality. Sometimes careful monitoring can reveal that extensive publicity used by political parties in the run-up to the election hardly matches the amount of expenses that are being declared. Our suggestion was that paperless financial reports on how the money is spent during the pre-election period should be disclosed immediately after an action was taken. The current timeframe for filing financial reports is ten days. We believe the main problem is that current reports are not thorough enough and the only way to obtain them is in a form of a PDF file. Currently, final financial reports must be submitted within three months after the end of the election. It means that, by the time, all the coalitions will have been formed and all the key positions will have been occupied. The timeframe for filing financial reports in neighbouring Latvia and Estonia is 40 and 30 days respectively”, P. Murauskas said.
The meeting with OECD experts was also attended by the representatives of the Open Society Fund-Lithuania, Lithuanian Employers’ Confederation, Lithuanian Builders’ Association and Vilnius university.
On Monday COEC welcomed the 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.