The National Audit Office (NAO) has welcomed the initiative to regulate lobbying in Malta being spearheaded by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life.
In a press release issued this afternoon, the NAO said that several audits undertaken often point towards scenarios where lobbying is likely, pivotal and central to the Government’s decision-making process, yet persists as a phenomenon that certainly remains unregistered in any form.
For this reason, the NAO is supporting this initiative which can readily be traced to Malta’s enabling legislation. In this context, the NAO, as mandated by the Constitution and the Auditor General and National Audit Office Act, is tasked with ensuring that Government conducts its business and functions in accordance with the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance. The regulation of lobbying bears an intrinsic link to this function as it serves to safeguard trust in the integrity of government processes and ensure that contact between lobbyists and Government representatives is undertaken in accordance with the expectations of public conduct.
The NAO said that whilst it understands that lobbying has become an integral part of the policy process through which Government measures are formulated, implemented and tested, the counterbalance to this is also important for greater accessibility and accountability. Some of this Office’s proposals relate to how lobbying is defined and how this must be adapted to the nuances and context of Maltese public life.
The NAO commented on the Register of Lobbyists and the Transparency Register, two tools that will allow the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life to appropriately monitor and regulate lobbying.