BURST The corruption remains, the excuses are thinning out
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It seems that we just are not able create institutions and laws that will manifest Macedonia’s decisiveness to handle corruption. Just recently, we had an unpleasant report from the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), in which the Macedonian institutions and the Government are strongly criticized because of the failure to implement 14 out of a total of 19 recommendations. As far as I know, the Ministry of Justice has prepared two versions of the Law on prevention of corruption and conflict of interests. Last time I was writing about another law proposal, for which the experts on the fight against corruption claim it is far more harmonized with GRECO’s recommendation than both of the versions of the Ministry of Justice.
The State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (SCPC) does not anticipate clear investigative procedures as part of the competencies of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption in neither of the two versions of the proposed anti-corruption law. It is that same commission that hasn’t been having members for quite some time now, that is, only the administrative part is working. That is why, on the other hand, in that draft law, the need of the SCPC for conducting a public opinion survey on its work is regulated in detail. It is that same institution that ordered investigations, inspections, financial police against those who thought differently than Gruevski’s regime, and kept its eyes tightly shut to the serious crimes of the government. Now, “headless” for months, they are waiting for a law from which somehow the SCPC’s investigative dimension “mysteriously” disappears. And many other things.
Financing for (non) dependency
The SCPC’s financing has to be regulated in such a manner so that it functions independently from the government, to lead procedures for control of the funding of political parties from public money, and especially from unknown funding sources. It is also important for the SCPC to carry out a detailed check of the property situation of the officials. However, as anti-corruption experts inform, in the draft law of the Ministry of Justice, the possibility remains for the Public Revenue Office to also, upon its own initiative, carry out procedures for checking the property situation. This duplicates the competence for checking the property situation, so go figure it out. GRECO is clear, this is supposed to be under the SCPC’s competence: “To establish appropriate legal, institutional and operational measures that will provide a deeper examination of the statements of interest and the asset declarations submitted by members of Parliament, judges and prosecutors, especially restructuring of the verification process under the guidance of the SCPC”.
Although the SCPC is given the competence to control the financing of political parties, still, it remains unclear how it will implement this, given the fact the State Audit office (SAO) has already been given the position of a central body for monitoring and controlling the financing of political parties and election campaigns. Who controls who and what happens if these two institutions come to different results from the work on the same subject? Will the conclusions of the one the “hurts less” be accepted?
All that is missing is a picture?
For the first draft of the anti-corruption law of the Ministry of Justice, I heard comments that it has been written in such a way that “all that is missing is a picture of those who are favorites for positions in the SCPC”. The new draft of the Ministry of Justice on who can be elected as president or member of the SCPC is a bit “more in line”, but it is still quite unclear and allows nomination of persons who in their portfolio have some title of a project for good governance or anti-corruption, which by far does not mean that they really were successful or relevant. And someone with 8-10 years of experience in catering, for example, can apply…Which can be charming, but how much good it will do for the state which, nevertheless, wants to fight corruption, remains unknown.
Privileges and benefits
The members that are yet to be elected, according to the (still not adopted) law, will have a ton of privileges and benefits, but the provisions on how the workers’ rights of the SCPC’s administrative part will be protected are still not clear enough. In regards to the possible pressures and threats on the SCPC’s members or administration, there is not enough of a clear legal protection. But, who needs such luxury, to secure the SCPC from influences?
Corruption in the world and here, is a dynamic and complex phenomenon. It demands constantly searching for good definitions that will enable an efficient fight against corruption and conflict of interests. In Macedonian laws, items that refer to imposing measures and sanctions against bad practices, corruption and conflict of interests often ‘disappear”.
“Natural” disasters and pendants
Do you remember? There was a fire in the Ministry of Justice, and then there was a flood. All the things that have disappeared in those “natural” disasters? When you visit the Ministry of Justice, you can feel the smell of something burnt, and in places also dampness. But the public doesn’t have a real picture (inventory) of the losses.
Let’s also recall on GRECO’s recommendations “to provide electronic submission of data from the asset declarations”. The equipment worth 600.000 euros, EU assistance, remains in its packaging in some depot in the Ministry of Justice, although the European Commission has already warned that the assistance will be withdrawn if it’s not put in use as soon as possible.
Who does the implementation of the recommendations for the fight against corruption not suit? Is it about not knowing or deliberately obstructing the processes that will lead us towards an efficient fight against corruption?
For the Ministry of Justice, it is imperative to oppose every, and even the smallest attempt to alleviate and minimize the fight against corruption that has to be translated into clear legal solutions, not in creating conditions for corruption to become invisible and not to leave even the slightest room for realizing personal affinities and aspirations.
Gruevski’s criminal clique conducted a decade of pogrom on the legislation and legal order in general. Indeed, the processes for recovering from that criminal craziness is complex and difficult, supported by numberless then and NOW pendants of the government, installed in the labyrinths of the institutions. However, with each passing day, the excuses are thinning out.
Translation: Natasa Cvetkovska