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NGOs call for the government to establish Independent Anticorruption Agency

By Khatia Bzhalava
Thursday, July 9
Non-governmental organisations call for the government to take effective steps in the direction of fighting against corruption. The statement mainly refers to the house of representatives bill which states that Georgia will not receive 15% of financial assistance unless steps will be taken towards strengthening democratic institutions, combating corruption within the government, and ensuring the rule of law in the private sector.

According to the statement on July 5th, 2020 the House Committee on Appropriations of the US Congress published the bill on allocation of finances for 2021 initiated by the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee. The bill determines the State Department’s priorities for 2021 fiscal year.

“Among others, financial assistance for Georgia in the amount of $132,025,000 is mentioned in the document. However, the withholding of funds is also indicated in the bill, according to which, 15% of financial assistance may not be obligated until the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government is taking effective steps to strengthen democratic institutions; combat corruption within the government; ensure the rule of law in the private sector is consistent with internationally recognised standards.”

NGOs point out that in Georgia, no significant reforms have been implemented in the last few years and that “the progress in this direction is no longer observed, moreover they state that the rate of success in fighting against corruption is aggravating year by year.”

The statement reads that according to the 2019 Business Bribery Risk Index by Trace International, in the last three years business bribery risk increased by 3 points in Georgia. Out of the directions assessed by the index, the direction of corruption deterrence was determined to contain the highest risk.

According to the 2019 Economic Freedom Index of the Heritage Foundation, despite the success in fighting against petty corruption, high-level corruption by public officials is still a problem.

As we read in the statement, high-level corruption was mentioned as a relevant issue in the 2018 EU Parliament resolution as well.

According to the corruption perception index by Transparency International, in 2019 amongst 180 countries, Georgia was ranked 44th with a score of 56, which is a worsened index compared to last year. According to the corruption perception index, limited separation of powers, abuse of state resources for electoral purposes as well as concentration of power in private hands remain as a problem in the countries of the region.

NGOs call for the government to take into account the recommendations of strategic partners and civil society organizations, implement a thorough analysis of the high-level corruption in the country and take such important responsibility as creating an independent, anti corruption agency, the main function of which will be to investigate and prevent high-level corruption.