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Transparency Serbia proposed anti-corruption priorities for the new Parliament and Government

Transparency Serbia submitted proposals for priorities in the fight against corruption to the newly elected leaders of the National Assembly and parliamentary committees, as well as the prime minister-designate, as it did after the previous election processes.

The proposals include measures that should be implemented by the legislature, but also by the government elected by the Assembly, and whose work should be supervised. Regardless of the fact that it has already been announced that the mandate of the new Government and the Assembly will last only 18 months, the proposals can be realized in this period, if there is a will.

A big part of the problems pointed out by the TS could have already been solved if the Government and the Assembly had fully implemented the previous anti-corruption strategy from 2013, but the Assembly did not even discuss it after its expiration in 2018. Instead, some of the previously identified problems have been represented in an even more drastic form in last couple of years, such as non-transparent negotiations of contractors of the most valuable projects and significant numberof acting directorsin public enterprises and public administration.

Among the priorities that the Government and the Assembly should keep in mind if they want to prevent corruption, is to increase publicity and participatory decision making, which includes public debates on all laws and relevant bylaws, public hearings in the Assembly that would includerelevant experts, publishing minutes and explanations of acts enacted by the Government, and improvement of rules on lobbying. In the period from February to October this year, there was no public debate on any law.Such practices increase the risk of the possibilityin the coming months that many important regulations will be adopted without thorough consideration.

According to TS, priorities should also include full respect and strengthening of the position of independent state bodies in the fight against corruption, regular review of their reports and committment of the government to solve problems identified in previous reports as well as problems that would be highlighted in future reports of these bodies. Also, the Government should regularly review the reports and recommendations of its Anti-Corruption Council and take measures to address the issues identified in those reports.

One of the priorities, based on the recently adopted Media Strategy, is to amend the rules to ensure a complete cessation of the practice of buying media influence or squandering of public resources by spending money on promotional activities of public companies, ministries, regional and local authorities, as well as through public procurement of information services with a main purpose of political promotion.

Among the priorities there are a number of measures that would imply the completion of judicial reform and enablemore cases of corruption to be reported and investigated through changes in regulations and a more active approach by investigative bodies.

TS also proposed concrete measures that can ensure full implementation and improvement of the Law on Public Procurement with the aim of reducing corruption in all three phases (planning - implementation of the procedure - execution of contracts), as well as the application of LPP rules to public-private partnerships.

Transparency Serbia reminds that the task before the Government and the Assembly now is to improve the rules regarding the financing of the election campaigns and the prevention of the abuse of public resources, which was pointed out by the ODIHR and the European Commission in their reports this year.

The realisation of priorities is associatedwith changes to the Constitution, which are already planned for a long time. However, the current proposals for constitutional changes in the field of justice do not lead to the achievement of the goal and recommendations set by of GRECO regarding the independence of courts and prosecutor's offices from political influences.Changes to the Constitution are equally necessary in other areas (position of independent bodies, restriction on borrowing and violation of the unity of the legal system through interstate agreements and special laws). Given that a referendum to confirm the constitutional changesis expected, it is also necessary to regulate the issue of financing the campaign that will precede the referendum.

The full text of the proposal, with 15 elaborated priority areas, in Serbian, can be downloaded from the TS website

https://transparentnost.org.rs/images/dokumenti_uz_vesti/Prioriteti_u_borbi_protiv_korupcije_u_Srbiji.pdf

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