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Press Release: 100 days of Government and fight against corruption

Transparency Serbia (official chapter of Transparency International) considers that proceeding of Government of Serbia in the past one hundred days in the field of fight against corruption was unfortunately marked by continuation of practice of non-transparent agreement with investors and keeping of party control over public enterprises besides clear legal obligations, while, certain measures from numerous laws proposed by the Government in the same period can be emphasized as positive.

Specific arrangements closed on the basis of international contracts and agreements, whether it was done during current Government or previous cabinets still remain unavailable to the public. Lack of transparency of these arrangements emphasizes their high-risk, existing due to excluding implementation of rules on competition from Law on Public Enterprises, Law on public-private partnership and Privatization Law. Instead of full implementation of Law on Public Enterprises, adopted 19 months ago, managing by political parties and deciding on dismissal and appointing of directors, that can not represent adequate replacement for institutional control, even when parties renounce their poor personnel solutions.

Government proposed several laws that improved previous state or to original versions of draft law. Example represents certain provisions of just recently adopted media laws, as well as circumstance that new draft Law on Protection of Whistleblowers is of greater quality that the version from December 2013 (according to estimation of our organization still remains inadequate). It should be emphasized, that even in the case of these regulations their full potential was not reached. Therefore, for example, Law on Public Informing and Media provides transparency of media ownership and state aid, but doesn’t allow transparency of data on largest sources of media financing, contrary to promises of same political actors from 2012.

During previous one hundred days of Government, public debates on some very important proposed regulations were not organized, contrary to the Law on State Administration and Government Rules on Procedure. Government, gives great attention to comments of EU organs to new legal solutions, but insufficient quality of public debates disables timely consideration of critics of domestic experts, the fact that is undoubtedly positive for future negotiations.

Anticorruption acting of the Government is often times estimated through prism of arrest and processing for acts related to corruption, what happened in this period (e.g. „Galenika“), but it should be mentioned that it isn’t in Government jurisdiction, but of repressive organs – police, prosecution and judiciary that should by default act freely and/or independently no matter who sits in Nemanjina 11. In the past period Government emphasized discharging of chiefs of police bureaus, but it also provided with contradictory information on reasons for it („revealing data from investigations“/„most of discharged chiefs did their job properly“) disabling estimation of possible anticorruption significance of this measure.

While in the moment of previous „dealing of cards“ in the Government, Aleksandar Vučić, being the first deputy Prime-minister was also „coordinator for fight against corruption“, position which no longer exists. For now, unclear announcements from Prime-ministers expose, on establishing of „striking teams for persecution of organized crime and corruption“, were not realized.

It should be mentioned that what Government hasn’t done in previous period, and was announced in prime-minister’s expose (indeed without mentioning deadlines), is either obligation from Anti-corruption Strategy. Therefore, changes of the Law on Financing of political activities still remain undetermined, Government ignored initiative for changing the Anti-corruption Agency Law initiated by that independent body 17 months ago, changes of the Law on Free Access to Information and Law on Ombudsman were not determined although they were harmonized with these organs more than two years ago.

Expose of Prime-minister announced reform of public administration, and rationalization of public sector, „decreasing number of employees in public sector… especially of those that are hired on the basis of party membership and close relations to political parties“. It was announced than that „optimization of public sector will be implemented through analysis of existing status and number of employees in all institutions, taking into account performance of employees, with the goal to identify surplus or deficiency, analysis of description of positions in all institutions, with their redesigning, functional analysis of all institutions with the goal to identify justification of their existence and possible overlapping of activities, with the plan to optimize each sector“. Having in mind that analysis should last up until November 2014, it is impossible to estimate whether Government made any progress in this extremely important area. Visible results and improvements are still missing, but announcements are coming that this serious and demanding analysis will be implemented during 2015.

In regards to „decreasing discretionary deciding“ when awarding state incentives, which was also announced, improvements can be expected with new legal solutions on state financing of media. On the other hand, discretionary rights of the Government are still too large when it comes to agreements with foreign investors and are also, without important changes, mechanisms for awarding incentives that were problematic in previous years are kept, which was pointed out by the Governmental Anti-corruption Council.

Most important reform law adopted by current leading parties, on public procurements, is being implemented and brings certain positive effects. Insufficient capacities of supervising organs as well as large procurements of works conducted without implementation of this law on the basis of international agreements or international credits remain main problems. From the standpoint of unique legal order, according to estimation of Transparency Serbia, wrong move was that after catastrophic floods special law was adopted that envisaged special status for certain procurements.

Expose announced decrease „of discretionary expenditures for per diems for official travels or drastic decrease of expenses for consumables and travels“, as well as „material expenses related to use of official vehicles.“ Government adopted Document that, according to Prime-minister himself, hasn’t brought any significant results. On the other hand, unfortunately, we haven’t found out whether state organs proceeded on recommendations of State Audit Institution after audit of purposefulness of using official vehicles.

Transparency – Serbia

Belgrade, 4 August 2014