Parliament adopts new Conflict of Interest Prevention Act

Zagreb - The Croatian Parliament on Wednesday adopted the new Conflict of Interest Prevention Act which significantly expands the number of persons to whom it applies, envisaging the submission of declarations of assets once a year and faster proceedings before the Conflict of Interest Commission.

The new law was supported by 77 MPs, while 27 opposition MPs voted against it, repeating until the very vote that the law is a step back in the fight against corruption and will marginalise the Conflict of Interest Commission as an anti-corruption body.

The law extends, from 12 to 18 months after the expiry of one's term in office, the period during which a former office-holder cannot be appointed to managerial posts in companies with which they had a business relationship or over which they conducted supervision.

Proceedings before the Commission should be faster - instead of three steps, now two are envisaged - the launching of proceedings and a decision on the existence of a conflict of interest or absence thereof.

The law also provides for stricter fines, instead of the currently minimum fine of HRK 2,000, the Commission will be able to impose a fine of a minimum HRK 4,000 while the maximum fine remains unchanged, HRK 40,000.

Fines can be collected not only from one's salary but also from other assets, that is, income.

In drawing up the bill, the government took into account recommendations by GRECO, the Council of Europe anti-corruption body, Justice Minister Ivan Malenica has said.

"It is not true that the recommendations were not taken into account. We have a good legal text that is also based on GRECO's recommendations and the Rule of Law Report," Malenica said recently in the parliament.

Education vouchers

As of 2022, the state will pay for the additional education of 30,000 adults to whom it will give vouchers in the amount of HRK 10,000, to be used for formal and informal education programmes designed to facilitate access to the labour market.

The vouchers are envisaged by the new Adult Education Act, which was unanimously supported.

Parliament also passed amendments to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce Act, abolishing the membership fee for more than 95% of entrepreneurs, members of the Chamber.

Author: Hina