New transparency law to get tough on public office holders who hide data

Deputy Prime Minister calls law "one of the most important reforms of Mariano Rajoy’s political program"

Madrid -

The Popular Party (PP) government on Friday presented its draft bill for a Transparency and Good Government Law, which Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaria labeled as one of the most important reforms of Mariano Rajoy’s political program.

Spain is unique among countries with a million inhabitants or more in Europe in not having a law to combat opacity in public management. One of Rajoy’s campaign promises was “complete transparency” after a series of corruption scandals rocked the PP, at a time when the prime minister was on the opposition bench.

It was no surprise, then, that the star article of the far-reaching regulation presented to Congress will bar officials who fiddle the accounts or hide data from holding office for up to 10 years. Also included in the law is a salary cap for public employees sitting on local corporations. It will also set in stone budget deficit compliance for the regions.

With just one day until regional elections in Andalusia, which could make Rajoy’s party the most powerful in the history of Spanish democracy, the prime minister is aiming to make good on his election promise to have transparency rules on the table within his first 100 days of office.

The law will consist of three arms: a website with all public administrations’ and ministries’ financial details, including salaries and contracts; the establishment of the citizen’s right for access to information on the use of public money; and the good government code, which Santamaría said will carry legal weight.

It is unlikely that the law will become active before parliament breaks up in June, Santamaría said.

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