Liberal Initiative wants top places in regulatory bodies to be chosen by international competition

The measure is part of a bill presented by João Cotrim Figueiredo, which aims to reinforce the independence of regulators vis-à-vis “regulators and political power” and to ensure a “greater coverage” and greater “level of competence” for institutions.

Cristina Bernardo

The Liberal Initiative wants the members of the Board of Directors of the regulatory bodies to be chosen through an international competition. The measure is part of a bill presented by João Cotrim Figueiredo, which aims to strengthen the independence of regulators vis-à-vis “regulators and political power” and to ensure a “greater coverage” and greater “level of competence” for institutions.

“The main change contained in this bill is the change in the process of appointing members of the Board of Directors of regulatory entities, providing for a tender procedure prior to the indication by the member of the Government responsible for the main area of ​​economic activity to which it relates. the role of the regulatory body ”, explains the Liberal Initiative, in the bill submitted to the Assembly of the Republic.

Liberals consider that the independence of regulatory bodies is “a fundamental principle of liberal democracies” and that only an independent regulator “can be an impartial regulator capable of playing its role as 'market police', without receiving instructions or orders, in a that their decisions are not based on anything other than what is good for markets, for free competition, and for consumers ”.

After having adopted a very critical stance in relation to the choice of ex-Minister of Finance Mário Centeno to govern Banco de Portugal - and having even advanced with a precautionary measure to stop the appointment -, João Cotrim Figueiredo considers that independence from political power is still “deficiently enshrined”, although the independence of regulators has been gaining “expression in legislation”.

Currently, the members of the Board of Directors of regulatory bodies are appointed by resolution of the Council of Ministers, after a hearing in the competent committee of the Assembly of the Republic, and an opinion from the Recruitment and Selection Committee for Public Administration (CRESAP).

“Despite the apparent participation of several entities, the truth is that this is a choice that falls solely and only to the executive body, since the other bodies involved do not have any power to choose or veto any person who is appointed by the Government to the Council Board of Directors of any regulatory entity ”, indicates the president and sole deputy of the Liberal Initiative.

In light of this, the party proposes amendments to the framework law of regulatory entities (which does not include Banco de Portugal or the ERC - Regulatory Entity for Social Communication, which are covered by specific laws) so that the choice will be made by international competition to “ensure the widest possible range” of candidates for the position and “increase the level of competence and technical capacity of the administration of regulatory entities”.

The proposed procedure is “very similar” to the selection currently in effect for senior management positions in Public Administration and management positions in Public Institutes.

To also ensure greater budgetary autonomy, the Liberal Initiative also wants the annual budget of the State Budget destined to a specific regulatory entity to be “fully allocated in the first month of execution” of each budget. This is so that "it is the independent entity that manages its annual budget" and "any attempts by the Government to influence or hinder, during the year, the normal functioning of the regulatory entity" are avoided.

If approved, the measure will apply to regulatory entities such as the Securities Market Commission (CMVM), the Competition Authority, the Energy Services Regulatory Authority (ERSE), the Insurance Institute of Portugal and the National Communications Authority (Anacom).

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