Anti-Corruption Strategy Draft in Final Stages
By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, August 25
The draft of the National Anti-corruption Strategy Implementation Action Plan was introduced by the Government of Georgia on August 23. Coordinated by the Analytical Department of Ministry of Justice, Secretariat of Anti-Corruption Inter-agency Coordination Council, the draft anti-corruption action plan was prepared by the inter-agency working group, with the participation of non-governmental organisations. The Draft reflects the activities planned in terms of anti-corruption and good governance for the period starting in the last quarter of 2010 through until the year 2013, including the respective indicators, responsible and partner organisations, implementation terms, risks and presumptions.
“The anti-corruption action plan which is for every institution within the country obliges each institution to implement relevant anti-corruption activities in various areas. Each and every citizen of Georgia can certainly see that corruption is no longer a problem in Georgia. But still, this is an issue which will always present challenges for the struggle against it. We should always do more in order to ensure efficient governance and transparency in state institutions and there are really interesting initiatives in this very direction in the anti-corruption action plan,” Otar Kakhidze, Head of the Analytical Department of the Ministry of Justice said, adding that the engagement of NGOs and private entities will also be an important part of the project. “It is necessary to deepen cooperation [between the state and the public], ensure modern standards and transparency of funding political parties in order to eradicate corruption in Georgia,” Kakhidze explained.
The nine-point action plan works on the modernisation and improvement of public services, improving the process of state purchases, the reformation of the state finances, improving the duty free and taxation systems, preventing corruption, the improvement of the judiciary system, and monitoring the financial support of political parties. The members of the anti-corruption Council claim that the struggle against corruption has undeniably intensified over the last several years and continued activities in this area are essential for the total eradication of the problem in Georgia.
“The system of state purchases will become completely transparent for public because all the tenders will be held using an online method. Maximum transparency will be ensured for all interested parties so that public engagement in the monitoring of state purchases, which was previously a closed sphere, will now be publicly available,” Davit Margania, the Head of Division of Private Law of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia told the media. In order to ensure the transparency of state purchases in Georgia, the Agency is working on a web-page which will become active in a couple of months so that information concerning tenders will be fully available for anyone interested.
The anti-corruption strategy focuses on the transparency of coordination among the departments. Every part of the project is aimed directly at furthering the decrease in corruption levels in our country. Special groups of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia are responsible for the gradual implementation of the new strategy over the coming years. Vakhtang Lezhava, Chief Advisor on Economic Issues to the Prime Minister, Nika Gilauri, who is also the member of the anti-corruption Council said the action plan is a project which will enable the Council members to carry out the anti-corruption strategy properly. “This project is for every institution either directly or indirectly engaged in corruption. All the issues of the plan will be discussed by the members of the anti-corruption Council and will then be submitted to President Saakashvili for approval,” Lezhava commented.
The National Anti-corruption Strategy approved under Decree No 376 of the President of Georgia on 3 June, 2010 states that the draft must be submitted to the President of Georgia for approval before 1 September this year. Each activity in the action plan must set out how it will accomplish the purposes and goals of anti-corruption strategy. The final draft of Action Plan has been sent to the members of the Inter-agency Coordination Council for final comments. The members of the Council must read the document and prepare remarks for a meeting on August 30. If the Council approves the draft, it will be submitted to the President of Georgia for his approval.
Analyst Gia Khukhashvili shared his concern about the anti-corruption action plan with The Messenger. “Despite the fact that the scale and structure of corruption has definitely decreased in Georgia, so-called elite corruption has intensified. Bribery is not the only form of corruption, but the increasing level of close tenders, illegal transfers and control over businesses is alarming for our economy,” Khukhashvili told us.
Fellow analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili agreed that elite corruption is increasing in Georgia. “The only database where I could obtain the most realistic information about the art of corruption in our country was the World Bank release about countries with “shadow” economies where 70% of the Georgian economy is “shadow” which means only 30% of the state economy was transparent,” the analyst said regretting that bribery has become a natural form of cooperation in Georgia. “Payment for necessary documents such as passports has become a necessary part of our everyday life. We pay lots of money without even knowing whether the money is really going to the state budget or someone’s private profit,” he said wondering how anyone can trust the anti-corruption Council.