Hungarian government to set up an anti-corruption authority

September 06. 2022. – 08:44 AM

updated

The government decision to set up an anti-corruption authority and an anti-corruption task force was published in The Hungarian Gazette late Monday evening.

The government's resolution states that an independent authority to "prevent, detect and correct illegalities and irregularities" in the management of EU funds is to be set up. This can be seen as a concession to the EU, with the government hoping – among other things – that this will remove the obstacles to the thousands of billions of forints of EU funds that have been withheld.

The new anti-corruption authority will be able to intervene in cases where other competent authorities "have not taken the necessary steps to prevent, detect and correct fraud, conflict of interest, corruption and other irregularities or infringements which could harm the sound financial management of the EU budget or the protection of the financial interests of the Union, in particular in cases of EU financial assistance in the framework of public procurement procedures."

The government intends to set up the authority before 21 November 2022. There is also a commitment to set up a new Anti-Corruption Task Force by 1 December. It will "include an equal number of governmental and non-governmental actors in terms of numbers and voting rights" and will be supported administratively by the anti-corruption authority.

An anti-corruption task force already existed in Hungary almost ten years ago, but NGOs (such as Transparency International) withdrew from it in 2013 following the amendment of the Freedom of Information Act, because they saw "no real intention on the part of government leaders to curb corruption".

They intend to reduce the number of single-bid public procurements

A decision to increase transparency in public procurement was also published in Monday's gazette. The government is committed to increasing the general efficiency, transparency and economic efficiency of public procurements from EU and national sources, to reducing the number of single-bid public procurement procedures and to increasing the level of competition, as well as to promoting the participation of micro-, small – and medium-sized enterprises in public procurement procedures.

The government therefore instructs Tibor Navracsics, Minister of Regional Development and the Utilization of EU Funds, to establish a performance measurement framework for assessing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of public procurements; and to examine the reasons for and effects of single tender procedures, "including cases where the proportion of single-bid procedures exceeds the 15% threshold."

The decision also states that Navracsics should ensure that the performance measurement framework is operated in cooperation with independent non-governmental organisations active in the field of domestic public procurement as well as experts in the field of public procurement.

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