ALSAI participates in the forum “30 Years of Governance and Anticorruption Reforms in Central and Eastern Europe”

19.12.2019

On 13 December 2019, SELDI's Anti-Corruption Initiative in cooperation with the North Macedonia Anti-Corruption Platform organized in Skopje the forum "30 Years of Governance and Anti-Corruption Reform in Central and Eastern Europe". The forum was attended by officials from North Macedonia, the US Embassy in North Macedonia, the OECD, representatives of Transparency International, as well as representatives of media and civil society. Due to the importance of meeting’s topic, the countries of the region were represented by various governing units such as: the Prosecutor's Office in Montenegro, the Association of Judges of Serbia, the Romanian Prosecutor's Office Corruption Investigation Service, the Kosovo Anti-Corruption Agency and the Agency on Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight against Corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina. At this meeting, Albania was represented by the Supreme Audit Institution, by Artur Hasanbelliu Director of Internal Audit Department in ALSAI and the auditors Besmir Pajaj and Megi Kurushi.

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Among the presentations and data presented, SELDI confirmed the region's progress over the last two decades in corruption pressure, assessed since 2001. Results for 2019 show that corruption pressure has increased compared to 2016 in four out of six Western Balkan countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, followed by Montenegro, Kosovo, and Serbia. Whereas, Albania and Northern Macedonia have seen a marginal decrease in the pressure of corruption.

In his speech, the President of the Republic of Northern Macedonia stated that corruption is one of the biggest security threats to the future of the country and the region. According to him, an effective fight against corruption requires a new law on prosecution in accordance with the highest European standards, a system that tackles corruption, and the introduction of new system values.

The Director of the Internal Audit Directorate at the ALSAI stated that corruption is a disease that all countries in the region suffer from and that we should fight it together. During his speech, Mr. Hasanbelliu presented the work of the ALSAI during the years 2012-2018, as well as the main findings and recommendations from the performance audit “Anti-Corruption Strategy”.

Audit message of “Anticorruption Strategy”

The Inter-sectoral Strategy against Corruption and Action Plan were designed to be in line with one of the EU's 5 recommendations and their final outcome should significantly reduce corruption in the country by involving all stakeholders. Despite this intent, the ISAC and consequently the AP detailing it, suffer poor planning of objectives, specifically of the A11 objective audited by ALSAI. This poor planning is expressed in the formulation of non-SMART sub-objectives, non-consultation or fictitious stakeholder consultation in the drafting of these documents, lack of methodology that translates operational objectives into strategic ones, lack of coherence between AP and ISAC, and approval of this Strategy by DCM, while it also sets out tasks for institutions independent from the executive. In terms of implementation, the National Anti-Corruption Coordinator (since September 2017 Ministry of Justice and previously the Ministry of State for Local Affairs), with key role in drafting, implementing and monitoring ISAC and Action Plan, has not mastered any tasks or responsibilities, resulting in an unfulfilled, unmonitored and consequently unreported Strategy on its achievements and failures. Prefectures, as one of the key stakeholders in the implementation of the Strategy, are inactive in terms of both timeliness and quality of reporting and result in not delivering the expected final products. On the other hand, although funds have been allocated to the civil society from the state budget on the issue of anti-corruption and specifically this Strategy, its role is almost non-existent. It turns out not to be involved in the process of drafting the ISAC and combating this phenomenon and has therefore not contributed as an added value to this Strategy

Considering to a large extent the Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan failed to implemented, as well as to ensure the implementation of such a vital initiative for the country and to continuously eliminate the risk of transfering the NACC from one institution to another, ALSAI recommends the creation of a National Anti-Corruption Agency. This agency is suggested to be subordinate to the Prime Minister and responsible for re-drafting, re-implementating and monitoring the ISAC and AP, obtaining initially the Assembly's agreement on strategic documents in the form of a special law.

In conclusion, forum participants agreed that corruption and state capture can and should be addressed through a combination of law enforcement and preventive measures, developed and implemented in collaboration between policy makers, civil society, the international community, the business sector and the media.

These efforts should be implemented systematically with the aim of creating a new system of values, not only to meet the preconditions for EU accession, but also to regain the citizens' confidence.

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