Despite criticism, changes to anti-corruption legislation advance
The bill defines more clearly the tasks and procedures of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption as well as rights and obligations of parties under its scrutiny.
The three-strong commission will now be able to decide not only on matters set down by the law, but also on those put forward by one of its members, which is to enable it to tackle important issues rather than cases which are of little systemic importance.
It gives the commission the power to better identify and eliminate systemic corruption risks and conflicts of interest, supervise assets of parties it is investigating and expand the investigation to family members if necessary. It also gives it the power to propose dismissals or audits.
The bill expands the obligation to report on contacts with lobbyists to organisations for which lobbying is done by their employees, legal representatives or elected representatives.
It defines more clearly the appointment procedure for the anti-graft commission members and the powers of the president of the republic, who appoints them.
The head of the anti-graft watchdog, Boris Štefanec, said the bill did not tackle the issues that were crucial for the functioning of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, that it had stripped it of its powers and prevented efficient fight against corruption.
Justice Ministry State Secretary Darko Stare rejected this, saying that the bill expanded the commission's powers.
MP of the senior coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) Aleksander Kavčič said the provisions on lobbying needed some more work and called for better solutions and for more staff on the anti-corruption commission.
SocDem MP Jan Škoberne said corruption could not be prevented by a law but only through changes of the social framework and values. However, he sees the bill as a step in the right direction.
Anja Bah Žibert of the opposition Democrats (SDS) complained that the Justice Ministry had not been open to any suggestions during the drafting of the bill, not even from the anti-graft watchdog.
Matej T. Vatovec of the opposition Left welcomed the expansion of the list of those who are obliged to report to the commission, the envisaged upgrades to the IT system and the provisions on lobbying. But he too believe the anti-graft watchdog will lose some powers.
MP Jožef Horvat of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) said he was bothered by the fact that Justice Minister Goran Klemenčič, who is a former head of the anti-graft commission, was not talking to Štefanec, the current head.
"We expected the bill to be presented in 2016, not five minutes before the election," he said, noting that Slovenia should look up to Denmark and Sweden in the fight against corruption.
The head of the group of unaffiliated MPs, Bojan Dobovšek, said the bill did not sufficiently solve issues concerning lobbying and whistle-blowers. "In general, the bill makes things complicated rather than simplifying them," he said.
The bill also enjoys the support of the Slovenian branch of Transparency International.