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Improving the Draft Law on Investments

Transparency – Serbia (official chapter of Transparency International) emphasizes that publishing of the Draft Law on Investments confirmed fears from the period when the text was unavailable to the public. Provision on access to information undermines integrity of the legal system and disables submitting of complaint to the Commissioner for Information in the cases when state organs deny data on their business with investors. Practice of Ministry of Economy that hasn't proceed by obligatory Commissioner's instructions but also the practice of the Government that often times ignores requests for free access to information, shows that this disputable legal solution does not represent a coincidence.

Twice, Anticorruption Agency justifiably pointed out to disputable provisions of the Draft Law on Investments that were inserted into the text after the debate in May. Namely, Ministry delivered to the Agency for giving opinion, drafts that weren't published, and reacted to some of the Agency's critics. Such proceeding, if the outcome was different would be worth of praise, because currently there is no legal obligation of the Ministry to organize such consultations. However, as the final Draft shows, Ministry just maneuvered in this final version without the desire to remove essential problem indicated by the Anticorruption Agency. Primarily, Ministry showed clear intention to disable investing of complaint to the Commissioner. Now, provision was reformulated into following „Government decides on requests for free access to information“. The goal remains the same - against decisions of the Government normally complaint is not allowed to the Commissioner.

Provision of the article 24 of the mentioned Law on Investments is illogical and unclear. This article envisages exclusive jurisdiction of the Government to decide on sharing information on investments, even in the cases when request was submitted to the Ministry, public enterprise, provincial or municipality organ. That, by our opinion violates legal principle of access to information that was set up eleven years ago – proceeding by requests is done by organs that are in possession of the information or information is related to their activities. Thereby, Law on Investments doesn't precise what is considered as „information on investment“. Recent mal practice  makes fears of considering this term not only for information that our authorities receive from potential investors, but also for the data on disposing with public property, debt remission and other obligations of the state towards investors.

Government hasn't elaborated this serious violation of integrity of the legal system – just stated in short what is envisaged by the article 24. This mere fact, according to opinion of our organization, should be reason enough for the members of the Parliament not to place this Draft Law on the agenda. If it still occurs, Transparency – Serbia invites MPs to propose erasing of article 24 from this Draft Law.

Transparency – Serbia

9 October 2015