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President Piñera signs Public Integrity Bill: “We want to encourage merit, commitment and responsibility in public office”

The bill seeks to modernize the state and strengthen the standards of probity and transparency by updating regulations on hiring family members and certifying the professional competence of appointees.

The President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, signed the Public Integrity Bill this Thursday. Its objective is to prevent and regulate conflicts of interest among those holding public office in state administrative organisms.

The bill is designed to stimulate one of the government's priorities: to modernize the state and strengthen the standards of probity and transparency.

“We want to encourage merit, commitment and responsibility in public office. And we want to reject corruption, abuse and incompetence among public servants. We want to welcome public servants who are honest, committed and competent. We want to say no to those public officials who seek to take advantage of the public sector, who act as political operatives or simply seek personal benefits,” said the President. He was accompanied at the event by Interior and Public Security Minister Andrés Chadwick, Minister Secretary General of the Presidency Gonzalo Blumel and Justice Minister, Hernán Larraín.

 

Key measures

Among the principal aspects of this initiative are regulations regarding the hiring of family members and certification of the professional qualifications of appointees.

Prior to appointments being made, the Civil Service will be required to prepare a report indicating whether the appointee is the spouse, civil partner or relative to the third degree of consanguinity or second degree of marital relationship with any minister, undersecretary, regional presidential delegate, provincial presidential delegate, regional governor, regional ministerial secretary, senior service director, ambassador, mayor, senator or deputy.

The bill also seeks to strengthen the regulations regarding the criteria for incompatibility with or disqualification from public office. Any person who has lobbied a government agency during the 12 previous months will be disqualified from  appointment to the post of minister, undersecretary or service director for that organism.

Similarly, anyone who has been sanctioned for failure to comply with his/her post-employment obligations will be barred from joining the state administration.

“We want to root out the culture of cronyism, connections [and] political operatives. Instead, we want to completely re-establish the culture of public officials who are honest, committed, competent and dedicated to serving others rather than themselves,” explained the President.

Meanwhile, the rules for senior officials leaving public service are also set to be regulated. More robust conditions are to be established for, among other aspects, cooling off periods and prohibitions following employment in the public sector.

The bill establishes that former ministers, undersecretaries and senior service directors may not provide any type of service to nor acquire shares in the property of entities that have been subject to oversight by the watchdogs related to the ministry where they served.

Similarly it proposes that former ministers, undersecretaries and senior service directors be banned from carrying out any lobbying activities for a period of 12 months after their departure from the public agency in which they served.

The bill also seeks to boost the probity standards for members of Congress. Senators, deputies and secretaries from both chambers and other high-ranking officials will be prohibited from appointing their spouse, civil partner or relatives to the third degree of consanguinity or second degree of marital relationship to positions with Congressional corporations and services.

This same prohibition extends to the comptroller, the deputy comptroller and other high-ranking officials of the office of the Comptroller General of the Republic.

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