Independent and efficient Anti-corruption Commission hasn’t been formed yet

According to the implementation deadline stipulated in the program (the first six months in office) the reform of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (SCPC) so it has a “strong mandate and independent composition” should have been started at least by the end of November 2017 – owing to the fact that the new Government was elected on 31 May 2017. Nevertheless, despite the plans, the aforesaid hasn’t occurred thus far (19 April 2018), although the Government was formed more than 10 months ago.

 

We will propose a new format for a true Anti-corruption Commission, with access to all institutions and information, strong mandate and independent composition.

[Source: SDSM’s election program (2016), Plan for Life in Macedonia (page 233)]

 

EXPLANATION:

For the snap general elections (December 2016), SDSM promised that during the first six months in office they would propose “a new format for a true Anti-corruption Commission, with access to all institutions and information, strong mandate and independent composition”. This promise made by the social-democrats hasn’t been fulfilled so far (19 April 2018).

The specific promise is laid down in SDSM’s election program План за живот во Македонија (Plan for Life in Macedonia), chapter ПЛАН 180° – ИТНИ РЕФОРМСКИ ПРИОРИТЕТИ НА НОВАТА ВЛАДА ВО ПРВИТЕ 6 МЕСЕЦИ (PLAN 180° – URGENT REFORM PRIORITIES OF THE NEW GOVERNMENT IN THE FIRST 6 MONTHS), section Правда, сигурност, контрола на власта (Justice, safety and control of government) (page 233). Meaning, according to the implementation deadline stipulated in the program (the first six months in office) the reform of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (SCPC) so it has a “strong mandate and independent composition” should have been started at least by the end of November 2017 – owing to the fact that the new Government was elected on 31 May 2017. Nevertheless, despite the plans, the aforesaid hasn’t occurred thus far (19 April 2018), although the Government was formed more than 10 months ago.

 

FIVE MEMBERS OF THE ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION RESIGNED

After the audit report on the work of SPCP was published in early March (2018), which expresses suspicions for payment of fictional travel vouchers of some members of the Anti-corruption Commission, five members of the Anti-corruption Commission (seven in total) resigned. According to the media, the internal audit conducted by the Public Revenue Office (PRO) revealed that certain SCPC members had been negligent in the spending of budget funds, while the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office has initiated an investigation for possible corruption. At first, the SCPC denied the accusations and asserted that the case of the alleged abuse of travel expenses has been instructed in order to cast a shadow on their work. But just several days later, five SCPC members resigned.

On 6 March 2018, while answering a journalistic question, the Prime Minister Zaev saluted the decision on resignation.

We can free the institutions if we are transparent, accountable and if we assume responsibility, ethical at least. I’m assured that Macedonia needs serious Anti-corruption Commission that will rest on all required international practices and will be the vigilant eye for monitoring the executive branch and everything that has contact with people’s money, Zaev said.

On 19 March 2018, the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia passed the Decision on dismissing the five SCPC members that resigned – Igor Tanturovski, Goran Milenkov, Zhaklina Damchevska, Sejdi Halili and Farie Aliu. Previously, this decision was accepted at a session of the parliamentary Committee on Election and Appointment Issues, during which DUI’s Artan Grubi called the remaining two SCPC members, Suzana Toskova Adjikotareva and Najdo Spasevski, to resign as well.

The last piece of information on SCPC’s website dates from 29 March (2018), which says that due to the fact that “five SCPC members have been dismissed, the Commission is unable to decide on requests and reports delivered by the parties in the forthcoming period”.

In regard to the aforementioned, we inform that the Secretariat, as SCPC’s expert service, will act upon and perform all of SCPC’s administrative and technical duties and through SCPC’s archive and e-mail, it will be receiving and administering the entire paperwork that will be sent to SCPC’s address.

 

THE LAST AMENDMENTS TO THE LAW WERE MADE IN 2015

The Law on Prevention of Corruption, passed in 2002 and amended multiple times in the past 16 years, governs SCPC’s scope of work and remit as well as the election and dismissal of its members. According to pravo.org.mk, the Law on Prevention of Corruption was lastly amended in 2015, during the tenure of the previous Government – led by VMRO-DPMNE.

While answering a journalistic question after the hearing for the “Поткуп” (Bribery) case was ended on 19 March 2018, the Premier Zaev said:

The issue on completing the composition of the Anti-corruption Commission belongs to the Parliament, and from what I’ve read in the media, I know that certain people have resigned and it is known that amendments and supplements to the Law are in the making. For me, it is important to have an expert, independent and professional commission.

Notwithstanding, the SDSM-led incumbent Government hasn’t officially brought forward a legislative proposal for “a new format for a true Anti-corruption Commission, with access to all institutions and information, strong mandate and independent composition”.

 

EC’S REPORT – REFORMS ARE NECESSARY FOR INDEPENDENCE OF THE SCPC

According to the Фактографски извештај за имплементацијата на План 3-6-9 (Overview of the State of Play of the Implementation of Plan 3-6-9) for the period 4 July 2017 – 17 April 2018 (MK), published on Government’s website, the reform (strengthening) of the Anti-corruption Commission is yet to be implemented.

As regards the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption and its Report on all initiated corruption procedures and investigations in the last five years, the Government’s Overview, page 41, chapter Fight against organized crime and corruption, says that “the submitted report of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption will be taken into account when defining the further measures for its strengthening” as well as that “out of 7 SCPC members, 5 resigned as a result of public information on improper use of budget funds”.

Furthermore, the 2018 Progress Report for the Republic of Macedonia for the country’s advancement toward the EU standards says that corruption remains one of the vital issues. Specifically, “it is necessary to reform the general institutional framework so the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption has clear powers and sufficient resources and can work in full independence”, the Report says.

 

THE PLATFORM OF CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS FOR FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION REQUESTS DE-PARTIZATION OF THE ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION

Last month (March 2018), the Platform of Civic Organizations for Fight against Corruption put forward an initiative for de-partization of the Anti-corruption Commission and requested the formation of a professional anti-corruption body that will initiate and implement the legal remit and policies for prevention of corruption in the Republic of Macedonia in an effective and independent manner and with high degree of integrity. The Platform sent this request to the Parliament, as the competent body for electing SCPC members, the Government and the political parties, and called on change of the current model of electing the members of the SCPC, which will be based on competence and integrity, without party influence, via public hearing of candidates in the Parliament of the RM.

We request active participation of civil society members in the hearing, who will be allowed to affect the decision on election of SCPC members. Furthermore, we request the initiation of procedure for reviewing the model of institution for fight against corruption to be set as a priority as well as the formation of an institution that will meet the international standards for independence, efficiency and non-selectiveness during operations. (Platform)

 

SOURCES:

 

Assessed by: Olivera Vojnovska 


This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.