Government to Abolish Regulation on Lobbying – the Anti-corruption Institutions are About to Weaken

The draft Bill on Social Participation will repeal the now operative law on lobbying. This proposed measure would lead to an increase in oppurtunities for corruption by curtailing the transparency of public decision-making.

The current law on lobbying allows for the public to become aware of corporate attempts to influence public decision-making: it lets the people know which economic interest groups try to contact those who exercise power and why.

It is a painful fact – one not questioned by HCLU – that the current law has not achieved its expected outcome. The main problem is that public decision-makers do not observe the rules and regulations already applicable to them: for example they do not inform the public about illegal lobbying, which is their duty provided under the law. All decision-making organs must inform the Central Office of Justice about who lobbies for what. However, there is one ministry which has not published any information in the last three years. The reason is that in this case nothing forces the public decision-makers to obey the law. Although abolishing the above regulation would be a mistake on the part of the government, because there are no signs of plans of replacing that very important judiciary institution with an improved one. The HCLU thinks that the current regulation should be replaced by one which makes legal lobbying more beneficial than illegal activities.

The government’s draft would garantee by further legislation that the activity of the ministries will be transparent and the citizens will be able to express their opinion on legislation. That idea is simply simbolic, because the Hungarian law already demands transparent legislation and social participation in it. The government’s plans will not fix the shortcomings of the Bill on Freedom of Electronic Information came into force in 2005, which regulates the publicity of the legislation process: the objectives of that bill can not be reached because they can not be enforced, following them is only a voluntary matter, therefore the amount information on ministry homepages vary.

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