On Wednesday, 20 June, Latvian parliament’s Public Administration and Local Government Committee decided to submit for review amendments to the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Activities of Public Officials.
These amendments provide for reviewing established restrictions for state officials, as confirmed by Saeima’s press-service.
Changes also provide for establishing rights for state officials to combine their post with the one they have in a trade union without asking permission from the head of the institution they fork for. This will apply to officials, officers of Interior Affairs Ministry’s institutions and Prison Administration, as well as municipal police officers and professional soldiers.
Changes were initiated because of certain cases when Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau pointed towards the need for officials to ask permission from institution managers to combine official post with that in a trade union. It is worth mentioning that the freedom of trade unions is backed by the Constitution, as stated in the legislative draft’s annotation.
To provide state officials with reasonable restrictions for combining jobs, authors of the draft propose allowing institution heads to assess the usefulness of submitting a declaration or decide if the person even needs permission to combine jobs. This condition may be added to official posts in which officials perform duties only several times a year and which have minimal corruption risks. Authors of the legislative draft say it will reduce administrative burden for heads of institutions, because instead of several permits they will have to issue just one.
Changes to the law will relieve from submitting state official’s declaration private persons that work in institutions such as Latvian Medical Association, Latvian Sworn Auditors Association, Latvian Architects Association and other organizations. It is hard to find people who would take on duties in those institutions, because it would cause inconveniences and restrictions for their private lives once their personal information is published in a state official’s declaration, authors say.
Both representatives of Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau and State Revenue Service voiced objections to this legislative draft. They mentioned a number of problematic issues, adding that benefits from state official declaration outweigh the administrative burden associated from having to fill in and submit it.