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2019.05.31 11:16

New law 'may politicize' activities of the Audit Office and Competition Council

BNS, Vaidotas Beniušis 2019.05.31 11:16

The Lithuanian National Audit Office and the Competition Council say the government's proposed new strategic governance regulation threatens their independence.  

The proposed regulation "clearly undermines the autonomy and independence of the National Audit Office," says Auditor General Arūnas Dulkys.

The Competition Council warns that the law may open the way for politicizing its activities. 

Šarūnas Keserauskas, its chairman, says the bill may allow the government to set binding goals and targets for the anti-trust body. 

"The regulation may create the conditions for conflicts of interest and politicization of the Competition Council's activities," says Keserauskas.

Dulkys says the bill requires the audit office to transpose measures planned by the government into its strategic plans. 

Both authorities were asked to provide their opinion on a draft law on strategic governance that was registered by the government's office earlier this month.  

The bill's provisions tie funding to government-approved national development programs, according to the auditor general and the chairman of the Competition Council.

The auditor general said the law would enable the government or an agency authorized by it to influence the impartiality and objectivity of an audit via the planning process. 

This is not the first bill seen by the supervisory authorities as a threat to their independence.

Earlier this year, they criticized the government's proposal that members of the Cabinet should be tasked with coordinating certain public policy areas and that heads of public institutions should have their strategic goals and targets approved by ministers.

The government says the planned overhaul of the strategic planning and budget formation system is aimed at making public institutions' activities more results-oriented.