Combating corruption has been one of the main priorities of the Government of Georgia (GoG) for years. In this regard considerable progress has been made by the country, evidenced by various international ratings and indexes, such as Global Corruption Barometer, Trace International, World Bank Doing Business Index, Rule of Law Index, etc.
With the aim of facilitating the process of combating corruption, the National Anti-Corruption Strategy was elaborated and adopted by the President of Georgia in 2005. Bearing in mind the need of renewing the Anti-Corruption Strategy and internalizing the need of better management of the working process, a special Inter-Agency Council of Combating Corruption (hereinafter Anti-Corruption Council) was established. In 2010 new priorities of combating corruption for the period of 2010-2013 were adopted. Regardless of the success made by Georgia in this period, the country faced new challenges, requiring renewed approach and solutions. The progress made by the country as well as the challenges remaining were also highlighted in the renewed Istanbul Anti-corruption Action Plan prepared within the auspices of OECD. Hence in 2013 Anti-Corruption Council made a decision to adopt a new Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan. As a result, in April 2015 the Anti-corruption Action Plan and Strategy for 2015-2016 were approved by the Government of Georgia. While the strategy includes general description of existing challenges and the ways of overcoming them, the action plan includes more detailed information on the actions to be taken, names of the state entities responsible as well as precise deadlines for achieving the progress.
The Anti-Corruption Strategy of Georgia 2015-2016 was developed by the Anti-Corruption Council, composed of representatives of the executive, judicial and legislative branches as well as CSOs and international organizations. The Council is headed by the Minister of Justice (MoJ) and its work is facilitated by the Analytical Department of the MoJ, which is the Secretariat of the Agency. The process of elaborating the Anti-Corruption Strategy 2015–2016 has been distinctive with regard to the involvement and active participation of CSOs in the process, which proved to be mutually beneficial for private as well as public sectors.
The 13 priorities of the new Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan developed as a result of close cooperation between the Government of Georgia and representatives of CSOs are:
1) Effective interagency coordination for the prevention of corruption;
2) Prevention of corruption in public service;
3) Openness, access to public information and civil participation in the fight against corruption;
4) Education and public awareness raising for the aim of preventing corruption;
5) Prevention of corruption in law-enforcement bodies;
6) Prevention of corruption in the judiciary;
7) Ensuring transparency and prevention of corruption risks in public finance and public procurement spheres;
8) Prevention of corruption in customs and tax systems;
9) Prevention of corruption in private sector;
10) Prevention of corruption in health and social sector;
11) Prevention of political corruption;
12) Prevention of corruption in defense sector;
13) Reduction of corruption risks in regulatory bodies.
Special Expert Level working groups were developed within the Council to work on a wide array of preventative measures related to the prevention of corruption according to their fields of expertise. The working groups are:
1) Civil service reform;
2) Access to information, civic involvement and raising public awareness;
3) Prevention of corruption in law enforcement bodies and the judiciary;
4) Prevention of corruption in the spheres of public finance and public procurement;
5) Prevention of corruption in customs and tax systems;
6) Prevention of corruption in relation to private sector;
7) Prevention of corruption in health and social sector;
8) Prevention of political corruption;
9) Reduction of corruption risks in regulatory bodies.
It should be noted that the working group of Access to Information, Citizen Engagement and Awareness Raising is chaired by the Director of IDFI, while the working group of Eliminating Corruption in Regulatory Bodies is chaired by the Head of Media and Telecommunications Direction of IDFI.
On April 20, 2015 the Prime Minister of Georgia signed a Government Decree on Adopting the Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan of Georgia for 2015-2016. The Action Plan included many of the recommendations on the issues that IDFI has been advocating for years. Thus the GoG undertook the obligation to further reform high risk corruption spheres such as public procurement, civil service, whistleblower protection, asset declarations, etc. Work on relevant new legislation has been underway during the previous year, as a result of which a package of legislative amendments was submitted to the Parliament of Georgia. The package includes adopting a new law on Civil Service, elaborating a legislative act on Remuneration in Civil Service, adopting a law on Civil Service Recruitment, drafting a legal act on Certification of Civil Servants, etc., as well as amending various legal acts such as the Law of Georgia on Conflict of Interests and Corruption in Civil Service, Organic Law on Public Procurement etc. The legislative package has been accepted by the Parliament of Georgia on the second hearing in October, which means that the draft will go through no further substantial amendments. Below we present a brief overview of the obligations undertaken by the government of Georgia in the Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan, discuss the recommendations that IDFI has been advocating for, and evaluate to what extent the recommendations have been taken into consideration in the new legislative amendments package that has already been approved by the Parliament of Georgia. Precisely, the analysis discuss such crucial topics of fight against corruption in civil service as: civil service recruitment, whistleblower protection, asset declarations of high-ranking officials, remuneration in civil service and public procurement.
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