The Argentine Executive Branch presented to a bill to the House of Representatives with the purpose of regulating the activity and publicity of advocacy or lobbying activities to enhance transparency in public decision-making processes, and reinstate social trust in public institutions.
On April 19, 2017, the Federal Executive Branch submitted a bill to the House of Representatives with the purpose of regulating the exercise and publicity of advocacy or lobbying activities with different federal government bodies (the "Bill").
The Bill defines "advocacy or lobbying" as any activity which seeks to influence the decision-making process of officers exercising public functions, as defined in Section 1 of Law No. 25,188 on Public Ethics as amended. Such influence could be exercised in favor of the party or a third-party interest, for free or remunerated, on regular or occasional terms, and either planned or incidental. The Bill provides that these advocacy activities must be developed within the guiding principles of integrity, equal treatment and publicity of government acts.
The scope of the Bill comprises, inter alia, the following scenarios: (i) the proceedings and resolutions of administrative dockets, (ii) the drafting of preliminary or non-preliminary drafts of regulations, (iii) the drafting or implementation of public policies, and (iv) the procedures for the granting of senatorial agreements.
The scope of the Bill expressly excludes: (i) hearings requested by individuals which are related to private affairs, unless those affairs deal with economic interests of such significance that may be construed to be of public interest, (ii) job interviews and advisory requests, and (iii) hearings requested by public officers in exercise of their official duties, or diplomats of foreign states performing their official duties.
The Bill specifies certain officers obliged under its provisions, and establishes that the enforcing authorities are those in charge of enforcing the Law on Access to Public Information No. 27,275. Such authorities are the Public Information Access Agency and the agencies that are to be instituted within the jurisdictions of the Legislative and Judicial Branches, the Council of the Judiciary, the Public Ministry of Prosecution and the Public Ministry of Defense.
The obliged officers must keep a Registry of Hearings of Advocacy or Lobbying Activities, which must include all hearings that have taken, place, including both planned and incidental hearings; and, among other matters, the name of the petitioners and the content of such hearings. Those who fail to comply with the duties imposed by the Bill or who obstruct its compliance will be sanctioned, according to the applicable legislation in terms of disciplinary, administrative, civil or criminal liability as the case may be.
The Bill, if passed, will provide tools to strengthen republican controls and the control of government actions, thus contributing to enhance transparency in government decision-making processes.
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