Business Joomla Themes by Justhost Reviews

Still without strategic approach in fight against corruption

Monitoring of Anticorruption Strategy implementation and corresponding Action Plan during 2015, implemented by Transparency – Serbia (official chapter of Transparency International), showed that most of the planned activities were not realized (Monitoring refers to four areas of Strategy – political activities, public finances, public-private partnership and privatization and prevention), which is a repetition of results from the first year of Strategy implementation.

In 2015 only 14% of monitored measures were implemented, and the same percentage was of partially implemented. It is discouraging that these results occurred in the situation with the best external support to implementation of anticorruption measures - stable political majority, fight against corruption was declared as political priority, relation to European integration, support of international institutions and citizens, existence of several supervisory organs (Strategy envisaged that as much as three institutions have active role in coordination and monitoring, that is supervision over implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan: Government Coordination Body, Government Anticorruption Council and Anticorruption Agency).  Main reasons for week results are inactivity of National Assembly (no discussion on conclusions of competent committees in 2015, on the occasion of the annual report of the Agency for 2014 and the report on implementation of Strategy and Action Plan), absence of accountability for missing to implement measures and using of drafting of Action Plan for chapter 23 of euro integrations as an excuse for prolonging deadlines.

Only one of 21 measures from the area of „political activity “was implemented completely. On the other hand, the Law on Anticorruption Agency and Law on Financing of Political Parties were not amended, nor was the Law on Lobbying adopted. Rules on public debates from the Governmental Rules on Procedure are not being respected in most important cases, even when it comes to acts that fulfill conditions under both criteria for organizing of public debate (public interest and scope of changes). Even when public participation is allowed in line with Rules of Procedure, participants do not always receive information on why their recommendations are accepted or denied, and there is no practice of publishing of submitted recommendations and suggestions. Considering of anticorruption (or corruption) effects of certain regulations in procedure is more often object of public interest and debates before competent authorities, but is still no object of systemic previous scrutiny.

Level of implementation is significantly improved in the public finances area (10 to 44 measures). However, these successes are mostly not results of Anticorruption Strategy implementation, but rather fulfilling of other plans of the state organs (e. g. Tax Administration, Customs Administration, SAI, Ministry of Finances, and Public Procurement Office). This chapter from the Strategy needs to be amended to make clear which measures should be implemented precisely for the risks of corruption (e. g. selectiveness in the collection of public revenues, cooperation between various control organs, and disruption of public procurement system through special regulations...).

None of the three goals formulated by the Strategy in the scope of public-private partnerships and privatization were accomplished. Primary reason is that here, like in many other areas, Strategy was not understood as initiator of changes. Other reason is that Strategy failed to identify one important modality of business with risks of corruption, due to lack of transparency and competition and analysis of effects and alternatives. That is a matter of implementation of international contracts, or privatizations and PPE that were implemented without the respect of domestic laws, with referral to some of the bilateral agreements. Although previously present, these modalities of business became very significant in scope and value. When it comes to specific loopholes, missing to fulfill obligations from the AP was caused by omission in the first step – to perform analysis of risks in relevant regulations. Especially worrying is that this problem was not resolved even when key institutions signed memorandum on cooperation and twice discussed the problems in privatization area.

In the prevention area more than half measures (16 out of 27) remained unfulfilled. Status is just slightly improved compared to initial 2013. Anticorruption Agency made progress in regards to risk analysis of corruption related to adoption of the new laws and other regulation, but even so, noticed risks were not always removed from the final text of the regulation. Other organs haven't analyzed these risks, even when it comes directly to anticorruption laws, like, for example, the case with draft changes and amendments of the Criminal Code from May 2015.

There were no important changes in the previous period that refer to method of employment and advancing in authority organs, that were planned by anticorruption AP for this period. Special emphasis should be put on violation of norms of existing regulations that already regulate employment through competition. That ways violation of the Law on Public Enterprises was continued, competition for certain managerial positions were not terminated even since the middle of 2013, and in the meantime these enterprises were managed by acting managers, employed without criteria and competition. There is no indication on what way and when will the unique system for preventing conflict of interest of employed in the public sector, that would replace current variety and absence of rules.

There was no larger progress as well in regards to transparency of authority organs work. Exception from some of the changes in the Public Procurement Law (more documents published on the Portal), as well as new media regulation (larger number of information on competition for media financing is published). Generally, there is a trend that most of the information is published over the internet, and provisions of the new regulations regularly envisage such possibility or obligation, but still pose limitations that are not always justified. There was no progress when it comes to publishing of information on the work of the Government (elaboration of decisions, conclusions). Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance was not amended, deadlines were not respected and the new ones, very distant, were established in the AP for chapter 23, for which there is no excuse.

Specific phenomenon during this and previous year was public promising of publishing of some contracts in certain time or under certain condition, with new promises following, and so on. One example is the case of contract on establishing of joint enterprise for „Belgrade Waterfront“, where after several years since the announcement of construction, contract was published on the governmental web page only after it became fully effective and five month after the signing. Other noticed phenomenon is new modalities for deprivation of rights to free access to information. That ways, for the first time during 2015 authority organs (Ministry of Justice) denied access to documents referring ungroundedly to provision of the article 45 of the Law on Protection of Competition.

The implementation of the Law on Protection of Whistleblowers, started. It turned out that delay of implementation was not properly used (Criminal Code was not amended), and the delay was unnecessarily long. Namely, training for judges that were presented as a condition for implementation of the Law was one day and without organized verification of knowledge. At the beginning of Law implementation there were problems especially related to protection of persons that whistle blow in the period of adoption until the beginning of Law implementation, but they were resolved in favor of whistleblowers. On the other hand, many well known whistleblowers from the period before the Law, continued to suffer retaliation.

These findings undoubtedly confirm fears that Transparency Serbia presented during Strategy drafting, and during presentation of last year’s monitoring. Strategy has no real chance for success without effective system of accountability of institution managers for missing to fulfill their obligations. The same as with previous Strategy (from 2005) that hasn't failed due to poorly planned measures, but due to its frivolous understanding, that ways, current act won't bring any changes if remains treated as non binding part of Governmental and Parliamentary agenda.

Transparency – Serbia

Belgrade, 25 February 2015