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MALTATODAY 14 August 2022

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12 NEWS maltatoday | SUNDAY • 14 AUGUST 2022 Thank you... for having bought this newspaper The good news is that we're not raising the price of our newspaper We know times are still hard, but we have pledged to keep giving our readers quality news they deserve, without making you pay more for it. So thank you, for making it your MaltaToday Support your favourite newspaper with a special offer on online PDF subscriptions. Visit or scan the QR code Subscriptions can be done online on Same-day delivery at €1 for orders up to 5 newspapers per address. Subscribe from €1.15 a week Same-day print delivery from Miller Distributors mt TWO years ago, Standards Commissioner George Hyzler proposed a transparency reg- istry in which ministers would have to log any communication, including electronic commu- nication, with lobbyists. In its feedback the OSCE (Organisa- tion for Security and Cooper- ation in Europe) has endorsed this proposal and now goes deeper in identifying other am- biguous situations, including the dangers posed by regula- tors who lobbyists after the ex- piry of their term in office and vice-versa, as well as the risk of lobbyists posing as experts and 'consultants' in a bid to change the goalposts. All this is particularly rele- vant in a country which has just seen its former prime minister being appointed chairman of a lobby for top- tier football clubs – effectively becoming a lobbyist himself, three years after resigning from office. Another example was how the Malta Develop- ers Association had recruited Marthese Portelli, the Oppo- sition's former spokesperson for planning; and also, Debo- rah Schembri, a former parlia- mentary secretary responsible for planning under Labour. The employment of former PN politicians by the DB Group is yet another indication of the cosy relationship between the political class and business lobbyists. And the ambiguity between consultants and lob- byists was illustrated by the 'advice' on planning policy giv- en by practicing architects like government advisor Robert Musumeci. Stopping doors from revolving fast In a bid to address the prob- lem posed by revolving doors, the OSCE does not actually preclude former MPs, min- isters and civil servants from taking jobs as lobbyists on behalf of corporate bodies. It simply suggests that that the Office of the Prime Minister should adopt 'cooling-off pe- riods' for elected officials and appointed officials in at-risk positions. Significantly it also proposed setting out a cool- ing-off period on appointing or hiring a lobbyist to fill a reg- ulatory or an advisory post. So much depends on the length of the cooling-off pe- riod. In fact the OSCE report endorses the Standard Com- missioner's recommendation of a ban on lobbying their former employer for certain public officials for a set term after they cease to hold office: three years in the case of min- isters, parliamentary secretar- ies and the Principal Perma- nent Secretary, and one year for members of the House of Representatives, permanent secretaries, directors-general, and the chairpersons and chief executive officers of govern- ment companies, foundations and other entities. If enacted this way, Joseph Muscat would be perfectly entitled to lobby for football clubs, but would have to wait till January next year. Some countries have longer cool- ing-off periods: in Canada public office-holders are pro- hibited from engaging in any consultant lobbying activities for five years. Similarly, former designated public office-hold- ers who are employed by an or- ganisation are also prohibited from engaging in any lobbying activities for the same five-year period. But other countries like the US and the Nether- lands have shorter cooling-off periods. Another problem is how to define lobbying. For as the OSCE notes, Malta lacks a tradition of professional lob- bying. This means that profes- sionals aligned to the interests of a particular lobby like hunt- ers or developers may end up Poachers and gamekeepers: lobbying rules to cure the Maltese malaise An OSCE report endorsing transparency rules by the Standards Commissioner goes a step further in addressing revolving doors, the role of consultants and a legislative footprint for the trail of lobbying on laws. James Debono conjures some Maltese examples which make the regulation of lobbying a matter of urgency

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