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Stortinget – a role model with scratches in the varnish

REGULATIONS: Transparency is perhaps the most important preventive measure against corruption

(PS. This article is machine-translated from Norwegian)

The Council of Europe's Anti-Corruption Agency (GRECO) has evaluated the regulations of the European parliaments, and a final report on Norway is now available. Norway is praised for having fulfilled the recommendations, which among other things have led to changes in the Storting's ethical guidelines and regulations for the registration of the representatives' office and financial interests. Norway is emphasized as a role model to inspire other GRECO members.

It is very good that Norway is leading the way in this preventive work with new provisions for transparency and anti-corruption, but there is no reason to rest on the laurels.

Scams with travel bills for several parliamentary representatives in the past year are in stark contrast to the boast from GRECO, and there are therefore additional requirements for regulation and control from several teams. The Accounting Association proposes a travel accounting system based on actual costs with documentation. In this way, you do not get reimbursed for travel that has not taken place. That should be obvious.

That the opportunities for cheating are made as small as possible is probably an advantage for everyone, even for the elected officials. At the same time, it is disappointing to see that a system that must be based on trust is cracking. It is expected that representatives who are elected to the trust positions with privileges that ordinary employees do not have, act with a high degree of integrity and good role understanding.

The media has played an important role in the disclosure of travel expense cases, and the Storting's police reviews have sent important signals about border setting. Tightening of reimbursement routines and control is necessary, and the parties must take that job seriously. At the same time, one should expect compliance with regulations even when not controlled, and this is especially true for parliamentary representatives.

High degree of trust presupposes a low level of corruption, and openness is perhaps the most important preventive measure. Transparency is therefore a review topic for GRECO's recommendations that the Storting has now implemented.

In addition, the Storting should introduce greater transparency about who the representatives meet and thus who influences the design of their policy. Over the years, many attempts have been made to establish a lobby register at the Storting where contact information is recorded and what interests the lobbyists have. So far this has not succeeded, and it is strange that it should be so difficult in a country that aims to be the best in the class of openness. The good shot from GRECO should give inspiration to establish such a register.

Gro Skaaren-Fystro
Skaaren-Fystro is a special advisor in Transparency International Norway.

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