The Special Services Coordinator presented the main principles of the new draft bill on the Transparency of Public Life (“Project“). The major goal of the Project will be to improve the transparency of the State. The Project also includes a new tool for the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (the “OCCP President“), i.e. the possibility to impose a fine of up to PLN 10,000,000.
Main principles of the Project
The Project imposes the obligation to develop and enforce internal anti-corruption programs in public sector entities and at least medium-sized undertakings, i.e. to:
- create a code of ethics,
- set up an internal procedure and guidelines concerning the receiving of gifts and other benefits by employees,
- not allow the creation of so-called “corruption funds”,
- determine the rules to inform the competent authorities about corruption proposals,
- require the inclusion of clauses in agreements which state that any part of the remuneration for the performance of the agreement will not cover the costs of providing benefits and personal property.
When an individual acting for and/or on behalf of an undertaking or a public officer is charged with corruption by a prosecutor, the Central Anticorruption Bureau (“CAB“) shall have the right to control the anticorruption procedures applied in the said undertaking or public sector entity. In the event that the anti-corruption programs are found not to occur or are found to be inefficient, the Chief of the CAB will be able to address a request to the OCCP President to impose a fine of up to PLN 10,000,000. The undertaking will have a right to appeal through the court of competition and consumer protection.
Additionally, the undertaking will not be able to apply for public tenders for a period of 5 years, unless it voluntarily pays a fine.
The Project also puts forward the obligation to keep an open register of civil law contracts, published in the Public Information Bulletin or on official websites. The said obligation shall lie with public finance sector entities, state-owned companies, research organisations and state-controlled companies, i.e. companies in which the Treasury or a local government authority holds more than 10% of the shares.
The introduction of the institution of the so-called whistle-blower is also planned, i.e. a person who reports reliable information regarding a suspicion that a crime of corruption has been committed in the public office or company he or she works in or performs work for. The prosecutor will grant the status of a whistle-blower. The whistle-blower will benefit from employment as well as legal protection.
The Project also presents a new single model of asset declaration which will be made entirely public and available via the Public Information Bulletin – this shall not apply to asset declarations filled out by officers of special services. The Project also provides an extension of the list of persons who will be obliged to declare their assets, e.g. the President, members of the Board and members of the Supervisory Board of state-controlled companies.
The Project also extends the information list which will be indicated in the Public Information Bulletin, e.g. information about redemption and relief from tax payment or the number of persons employed under an employment contract. It should be noted that the Project indicates that access to information covers also information from administrative proceedings. The Project also reduces the deadline to make public information available to 30 days (it is currently 60 days). However, if the process of making public information available involves costs incurred by the authority, such information will be available only after the payment of those costs.