Justice Minister Raluca Pruna said Friday that the fight against corruption is not the responsibility of the state, but of each and every one in Romania, warning that corruption “steals” something from everybody’s pockets.
“The fight against corruption is not a responsibility of the state, but of each of us, because our lives are directly affected. Corruption deeds are not just offences. (…) What we see as prosecuted offences are just the tip of the iceberg. Very many corruption instances go unpunished, but corruption surely steals from my pockets and your pockets as well,” Pruna told a news conference in Bucharest where she unveiled Romania’s 2016 – 2020 National Anti-Corruption Strategy adopted on Wednesday by the Government.
She added that the strategy is one of the objectives undertaken by the incumbent government, voicing hope that at the end of four years of its implementation Romania will show actual, quantifiable results.
“I, as a minister in the Ciolos Cabinet, cannot forget the emotional background in the Romanian society just days before the government was inaugurated. In the streets about ten months ago, very many educated people would cry: ‘Corruption kills!’ That was a dramatic alarm call that showed us all how fraught with corruption the Romanian society was. And in that very special context, the expectations, at least from justice, were naturally huge and legitimate. Since I came to the Justice Ministry on that background, which I will never forget, I believe it is my duty to the citizens who took to the streets and to those who did not not but who also think that corruption kills; I have considered meeting the expectations of the citizens and provide a tangible result while in office,” said Pruna.
She mentioned that the approval of the strategy was preceded by a wide-ranging consultative process that entailed discussions under structured platforms involving 90 public organisations, NGOs, business associations, state-run companies as well as privately-owned companies.
“Society’s interested parties were consulted, many public sectorial debates were held as well as technical meetings hosted by the Justice Ministry. So, I can unhesitatingly say this strategy is not just a project of the Justice Ministry, but a national project. In the architecture of national public policies, this strategy holds an important place, at the intersection of several public policies, being in its turn a sectorial strategy that relates to the national defence strategy, because in the end, corruption as a phenomenon is a matter that can impinge on the society’s national security,” said Pruna.
She added that the part of the strategy is to define a country vision and provide an answer to the citizens’ question about Romania’s journey in the next four years.
“The new strategy is not just law enforcement and the coercive force of the state, and it is more than just what the public bodies or the state ought to do,” said Pruna, according to Agerpres.
In a press statement released on Thursday, the Justice Ministry said that tens of proposals and observations put forth in a public consultation on the subject have been included in the final version of the strategy. It added that nearly 90 public organisations, NGOs, business people’s associations, state-run companies and privately-owned companies were consulted or joined public debates and technical meetings February – July 2016.
Among the initiators of proposals put forth at the public consultations of June 17 – July 29 were the Supreme Council of Magistrates, the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, the Public Policy Institute, the Anti-Corruption General Directorate, the Centre for Advanced Research in Management and Applied Ethics, Expert Forum, FunkyCitizens, the Centre for Public Innovation, Transparency International Romania, AmCham Romania, several ministries, public figures, public servants, as well as everyday citizens.
The proposals regarded most of the chapters in the strategy, and very many of them were taken over partially or in full to the final version of the strategy.
The Justice Ministry put up for public discussions on June 17 the draft 2016 – 2020 National Anti-Corruption Strategy sanctioned by the Government.
On Wednesday, the Government passed a decision approving the draft 2016 – 2020 National Anti-Corruption Strategy, the performance indicators, the risks related to the objectives and measures of the strategy and verification sources, an inventory on institutional transparency and corruption prevention measures as well as standards for the publication of information of public interest.
Implementing National Anti-Corruption Strategy will cost 100 million euros
Justice Minister said that in order for Romania to implement its 2016 – 2020 National Anti-Corruption Strategy, it will have to spend 100 million euros, to be earmarked from the national budget as well as under European programmes and in non-repayable funds from other partners.
“The implementation of the strategy over the next four years entails 100 million euros in spending. The money should come from the national budget, but also from programmes conducted on European funds and other non-repayable funds from other partners,” Pruna told the news conference at the Government House on Friday where she unveiled the National Anti-Corruption Strategy.
She added that the amount is very small when compared against the value of assets impounded in 2015 of almost half a billion euros.
“And that is just the tip of the iceberg. It is a small price for something very big,” said Pruna
New Anti-corruption Strategy provides for plagiarism deterrence system
Raluca Pruna also announced on Friday that the new 2016 – 2020 National Anti-Corruption Strategy focuses on prevention, and the envisaged set of measures includes introducing in education a system to deter plagiarism.
“The new strategy brings along a change of paradigm, focusing on prevention and responsibility at managerial level. We resume what was already set forth in the previous strategy, but which, in our opinion, has not been properly set into practice: responsibility at managerial level, meaning that any case that reaches the National Integrity Agency or worse, the National Anticorruption Directorate, is clearly a failure of management someone must be held accountable for. With the new strategy, each public institution manager must take responsibility for implementing policies and internal standards aimed at preventing corruption deeds in the institution under his lead,” Pruna told a conference at the Victoria Palace of Government.
The Justice Minister underscored that vulnerable sectors such as the judiciary, Parliament, the business community, are further maintained as strategy highlights, but new priority areas are also added.
“If we want an educated, a healthy Romania, it is absolutely necessary to take action in health care and education. The strategy proposes concrete measures to this end. In education we proposed adopting a nationwide transparent framework based on performance criteria to ensure the fairness of competitions, for instance for school inspector general, and introducing a system to deter plagiarism; for the health care sector the strategy provides as an important element setting in place within the Health Ministry a mechanism to prioritize budgetary allocations and the assessment of the decisions of the Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Office,” said Raluca Pruna.
Under the strategy, the Government pledges to the transparency of decision making and open governance at the level of central administration “as a mandatory requirement for a responsible governance set to the citizens’ service.”