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TI LATVIA ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2021 AND PROSPECTS FOR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT IN 2022

Transparency International Latvia’s activities conducted to achieve its aims and objectives in 2021 and prospects for future development in 2022.

Transparency International Latvia (TI Latvia) aims to build an open, fair and democratic society free from corruption in public administration, politics, business and mutual relations. In 2021, the organisation implemented the tasks set out in its statutes to achieve this goal, focusing in particular on: identifying and mitigating corruption risks; monitoring and analysing the activities of the Latvian Parliament (Saeima); following the development of the lobbying regulation in the 13th Saeima; participating in the drafting of the Anti-Corruption Action Plan (2021-2024) of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB); raising the issue of whistleblowing (including providing support to whistleblowers); highlighting the necessity to foster transparency in the private sector (including through helping companies establish stronger internal anticorruption systems).

Key achievements in 2021 and prospects for further development in 2022. TI Latvia successfully continued to implement its public benefit activities and statutory tasks. TI Latvia ‘s most important works and achievements:

  • We published the results of the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) and the 2020 Global Corruption Barometer (GCB), together with recommendations to decision-makers. In response to the results of the CPI and the GCB, we called on the Saeima and the Government to strengthen political integrity in 2021, to develop and adopt a law on lobbying transparency, and to promote the effectiveness of law enforcement and the judiciary in corruption-related cases, and we urged business to actively participate in tackling corruption by disclosing data and information on company structures and internal anti-corruption systems, as well as communication with decision-makers and lobbying. In addition to these activities, we educated the public about corruption and its negative consequences and promoted civic activism.
  • We worked on the regulation on interest representation (lobbying) in Latvia. We supported the 13th Saeima (Latvian Parliament) in the working group drafting the lobbying law, provided opinions and proposals during the drafting process, and explained to the public the benefits this law would bring to our democracy. In 2021, we developed a website dedicated to interest representation www.interesaizstaviba.lv, where we post relevant information, including updates on the 13th Saeima’s progress on the draft law. In June 2021, we published an extensive study on the existing situation regarding lobbying in Latvia (“Developing the lobbying regulation in Latvia”) and an article in the magazine “Jurista Vārds” on lobbying in the European Union and its relation to Latvian politics.
  • We strengthened the work of the TI Latvia Whistleblowing Centre. We regularly advised whistleblowers who approached the organisation – we analysed documents, drafted letters to the authorities, advised whistleblowers on the next steps they should take, etc. We were actively involved in the drafting of the new Whistleblowing Law at the State Chancellery and the Parliament. We prepared a Whistleblowers’ Handbook explaining the whistleblowing process and how to prepare for it. We published several explanatory articles on www.delna.lv and www.celtrauksmi.lv (a website created by TI Latvia to promote and explain whistleblowing).
  • We developed guidelines for monitoring the selection process of high-level officials and started monitoring the selection process of higher education institutions’ councils. To ensure that the participation of NGOs in the selection process is meaningful, TI Latvia developed guidelines providing an overview of the laws and regulations governing the selection process, TI Latvia’s experience in observing selection processes of senior officials, as well as internationally recognised good practices.
  • We fostered student involvement in decision-making in schools. We organised a civic participation project for pupils in 23 schools in Latvia, raising pupils’ awareness of how to get involved in decision-making and budgeting in their school and municipality and how to monitor decision implementation and demand transparency via participatory budgeting initiatives.
  • We expanded the interactive tool “Deputāti uz Delnas”. TI Latvia complemented and promoted the popular website “Deputāti uz Delnas”, where anyone can find information regarding political party financing in Latvia, private donations, and the declared interests of the 13th Saeima members. We invited civil society and the media to use this tool to monitor the interests of MPs.
  • We worked on conflict of interest management. We monitored amendments to the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest in the Activities of Public Officials and proactively responded to attempts to conceal declarations of high-level officials (members of university boards and boards of state capital companies). We drew attention to the shortcomings of conflict of interest management in Latvia and the need to reassess the existing system and implement GRECO recommendations.
  • We analysed transparency in the midst of COVID-19. We published a report on the impact of the measures taken by the government during the Covid-19 pandemic on the level of transparency in Latvia. This study can serve as one of the reference points for assessing the impact of the pandemic on Latvian society and offers general lines of action to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic and strengthen the resilience of democracy.
  • We were actively involved in updating the Code of Ethics for Prosecutors of Latvia in line with the recommendations of the State Audit Office and the OECD. The Code of Ethics was developed in cooperation between the Prosecution Office and TI Latvia, as well as with the participation of foreign experts from Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, and Estonia.
  • We organised training and an anti-corruption data hackathon for those working in public administration. This included training on conflict of interest prevention, corruption, professional ethics, and the use of data and technology to detect and prevent corruption.
  • We pointed out the existence of new trends in money laundering. We published a study on money laundering in the Baltic States and outlined the current threats to Latvia’s financial system relating to the abuse of shell companies and professional service providers and the growing popularity of the electronic money and digital payments industry. We also drew attention to the use of cryptocurrencies in corruption schemes.
  • We developed and published the “Transparency Index of Local Authorities”. TI Latvia together with TI Norway carried out a pilot study, assessing the level of transparency of Latvian and Norwegian local governments in areas such as policy and decision-making processes, organisational structure, finance and use of public funds, public participation mechanisms, anti-corruption and ethics, public procurement, and ownership of municipal companies. In this study, we assessed the publicly available information on the official websites of local governments and interpreted for readers the extent of transparency of local government information.
  • We advised the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) on its Anti-Corruption Action Plan for 2021-2024. The KNAB plan provides a comprehensive picture of corruption-related problems and points to achievable results. It also extends the existing scope of activities to the private sector and work with university students.
  • We analysed the achievements of the 13th Saeima in reducing corruption, promoting transparency and good governance. We based our analysis on the views of the parliamentary groups and independent MPs regarding what they consider to be the most important initiatives to fight corruption and promote transparency that have already been and have yet to be adopted.
  • We reacted to developments, highlighting the need to comply with the law in the preparation of the draft state budget and noted practices that are not in line with the principles of good governance.
  • We examined corporate transparency and companies’ anti-corruption policies. TI Latvia carried out the study “Anti-corruption Disclosure Practices of Companies in Latvia 2021”, published guidelines for open business, and launched the initiative “Zero Tolerance to Corruption”, which companies are invited to join.
  • TI Latvia ensures transparency about its work by regularly publishing information on the organisation’s website and social networks, and by sending out “Ziņas uz Delnas”, a monthly newsletter to its subscribers in Latvian and English.
  • The staff and the council of TI Latvia finalised the work on the TI Latvia strategy plan for 2021-2025.

 

TI Latvia will continue to work on attracting new projects to achieve the organisation’s goals and objectives. The main activities expected in 2022:

  • Strengthening the Whistleblowing Centre – counselling whistleblowers and others wishing to report possible misconduct, updating the Whistleblower Handbook in the light of new improvements in the Whistleblowing Law and maintaining and updating the content of the website www.celtrauksmi.lv.
  • Supporting the 13th Saeima in the development and adoption of the transparency regulation on interest representation (lobbying), raising public awareness. Maintaining and updating the website www.interesuaizstaviba.lv. The law is expected to be adopted by the 13th Saeima and enter into force on 1 January 2023.
  • Preparing and distributing periodic TI Latvia newsletters, including a special newsletter on corruption and transparency.
  • Fostering business transparency – promoting anti-corruption and transparency principles among companies and getting companies involved in TI Latvia’s “Zero Tolerance Against Corruption” initiative.
  • Promoting civic engagement among Latvian schoolchildren, educating and raising awareness among young people of anti-corruption issues and honesty, responsibility, respect and courage as assets when building relationships with people and acting and engaging in the development of their environment and country. Creating and disseminating educational material on anti-corruption issues among young people.
  • Updating the popular platform “Deputāti uz Delnas” with new data.
  • Organising expert forums and public discussions on anti-corruption activities and transparency.
  • Conducting various activities in the run-up to the 14th Saeima elections, working to have anti-corruption and transparency initiatives included in the pre-election programmes of political parties, promoting voter education, and participating in discussions with candidates for the 14th Saeima on initiatives to be implemented in the coming years.
  • Analysing the work of the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee for investigating the erroneous actions of the Latvian government in the Covid-19 pandemic management process, naming the political officials who caused irreversible negative consequences for Latvia in the management of the crisis. Publishing the report on the TI Latvia website.
  • In 2012, TI Latvia launched the initiative “Public audit of the Saeima budget!” on Manabalss.lv, which was signed by around 11 000 citizens and submitted to the Saeima in 2018. However, no further progress was made. In 2022, TI Latvia will update this initiative and take the necessary steps to enshrine in legislation that the State Audit Office audits the Saeima budget.
  • Strengthening internal democracy of political parties. TI Latvia will analyse parties’ internal regulations to identify current practices and prepare proposals for parties to improve their internal processes. In addition, we will make recommendations to the 14th Saeima on changes to the laws and regulations needed to promote openness and accessibility of information regarding the membership lists of political parties.

 

More about TI Latvia project’s find here ->

Contact: Inese Tauriņa, Executive Director Transparency International Latvia, ti@delna.lv

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