TRANSPARENCY IN LOBBYING

Published April 17, 2015

In most cases interest groups seek to influence politicians and civil servants in unofficial ways using acquaintances, offering financial rewards, donating or otherwise supporting political parties. As the results of the Lithuanian businesspeople survey provide, it is most frequently and most effectively done by associations, not the registered lobbyists.  

According to a businesspeople survey, the top spheres where interest groups seek to influence decision-making are energy (81 percent), pharmacy and healthcare (58 percent), construction (65 percent), and alcohol and tobacco markets (58 and 53 percent). Interest groups representing these fields are also identified as the most influential.

8 out of 10 businesspeople claim to know cases where decision makers were seeking to benefit a specific interests group without taking into account public interests. A similar number (83%) claim that decision making in Lithuania is not equally open to everybody.

6 out of 10 Lithuanian businesspeople claim that associations (59 percent) are among the interest groups that are most active in seeking to influence decisions, along with registered lobbyists (52 percent), trade unions (41 percent) and companies (35 percent). These interest groups have also been claimed to be the most effective in their attempts to influence decisions. The most prevalent ways of influencing decisions are considered to be using personal acquaintances (59 percent), offering financial incentives for favorable decisions (53 percent), donating or otherwise financially supporting political parties (53 percent).

The more legitimate routes such as participation in official working groups (22 percent), participation in official meetings (19 percent) and official submission of legal proposals (18 percent) were the least mentioned options.

“It is literally impossible to find out what groups are participating in the decision-making. We offer to link lobbying with the aim to make influence and not with a formal registration fact. We also offer to implement an effective legislative footprint. A time has come to recognize that influence making is not evil as such, but it is important to do that accountably”, – said Sergejus Muravjovas, a leader of Transparency international Lithuania.

Majority of businessmen clearly understand the harm of illegal lobbying. Lithuanian businesspeople claim that when decision-making lacks accountability, it is the citizens’ trust (68 percent), financial well-being (66 percent), national budget (64 percent) and business/investment environment (64 percent) that are harmed most.

According to the businesspeople, interests groups representing the field of telecommunication (22%) are most accountable revealing information about their attempts to influence decision-making, while the least accountable sectors in this regard are gambling and pharmacy (52%), energy (48%), tobacco and alcohol (47%).

Transparency International Lithuania also prepared a qualitative study of lobbying. In this study, legislation of this field was analyzed and selected representatives and experts from the public and private sectors were interviewed. The entire study can be downloaded from here:  Icon atsisiųsti (1,6 MB)

The representative survey of leaders of Lithuanian companies (N=604) was conducted in 24 of November – 10 of December in 2014 by a sociological research company „Vilmorus“ commissioned by Transparency International Lithuania.

Both studies are partially financed by EU programme “Prevention of and Fight against Crime”.