Lobbyists tamper with anti-lobbying legislation

7. 8. 2019

Last week, the government passed an “anticorruption” bill against lobbying. The Anticorruption Endowment (NFPK) has long promoted this legislative effort. In the framework of the Commission on Lobbying, attached to the Government Council against Corruption (RVKBK), we have proposed that the bill contain a key provision that regulates lobbying activities in the presidential environment. The Ministry of Justice and the Government Legislative Council have both independently arrived at the same conclusion, which was subsequently endorsed by the RVKBK, a body of leading authorities in this field. However, following intervention by an anonymous lobbyist, associated with the President’s Office, the Czech government silently deleted this point from the agenda. This development, in conjunction with the shortcomings listed below, will effectively prevent the law from meeting its purpose. We consider this step an infringement upon the very substance of the RVKBK and resolutely reject it, since we still consider this specialist forum a worthwhile endeavour.

Problematic points on the lobbying legislation (NFPK’s position):

  1. Choice of lobbyists

-        Exclusion of political parties and or their members from the list of lobbyists is an insufficient precaution

  1. Choice of lobbyists’ targets

-        The bill insufficiently regulates the lower levels of the sum of targets, especially those in executive positions. Much as we realize that such scope of regulation would not be sustainable, we’d still prefer to see senior officials bear a measure of responsibility for their subordinates.

  1. Scope of lobbying activities

-        We believe it will be necessary to include methodological guidelines and the issue of public procurement in the list of lobbying activities.

  1. Penalties

-        Any instance of violation of the terms of the legislation would carry a fine not exceeding CZK 50,000 and/or CZK 100,000. This fine is ridiculous in view of the billions of crowns involved; we insist on a progressively matched approach.

  1. Terms

The bill envisages archiving the documents for a period not exceeding 5 years. Considering that a legislation takes about 2.5 years to write and another year may pass before the bill takes effect, this term is seen as inadequate.

The Anticorruption Endowment (NFPK) calls on the government to return to the originally agreed provisions of the bill and amend its content so it becomes a working instrument of anticorruption struggle.

Contacts: Karel Škácha, Director, NFPK, tel.: 602 681 513 e-mail: karel.skacha@nfpk.cz