SAR report: Unless emphasis shifted to corruption prevention, anti-graft campaign in Romania, to fail

The anti-graft campaign in Romania will fail unless the emphasis is not shifted towards preventing corruption, says the Analysis and Forecast Annual Report – Romania 2018 launched by the Romanian Academic Society (SAR).

‘If the emphasis is not shifted towards preventing corruption instead of repressing it, the anti-graft campaign in Romania will fail. The National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA)’s actions are operated politically and by the media, after improper interactions with the intelligence services took place, exaggerated in the media by various interests and were, however, insufficient against the extent of the matter. The rules of the game can only be changed through policies agreed upon on both sides, where the elimination of corruption is a secondary, yet indispensable target, for instance an increase in the quality of public service, in the efficiency of public procurement or in the predictability of long-term investments,’ says the report launched by SAR in the ’12 years in the EU. Evolution or involution?’ debate organized on Tuesday at the seat of the European Commission’s Representation in Romania.

According to Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, one of the report’s authors, ‘anti-corruption needs to be depoliticized, to a certain extent, and rendered more technical.’

‘Let us not rely as we have done so far, that only by operating arrests things will get solved (…). As long as we continue to produce corruption on such a large scale, not even the most efficient world agency might be capable of handling it,’ Alina Mungiu-Pippidi said.

She presented in a nutshell the conclusions of the report, specifying that Romania has recorded progress in the past 12 years.

‘It is not only about the money, clearly the income has doubled, inequality has grown. The administrative capacity is obviously the area in which we are not capitalizing on our potential,’ Mungiu-Pippidi added.

According to the report, in 2018, Romania will exceed for the first time in its history the 10,000 USD income per capita threshold, thus advancing to the category of the average income countries.

‘Notwithstanding this, the EU integration and the institutional, economic and social changes this process has entailed have not managed to diminish the development gap and bring us the longed for prosperity,’ the report adds.

Moreover, the report specifies that 2017 was one of the most chaotic years with regard to fiscal regulations, with a lot of proposals to change taxation that were not well cooked, communicated and which were followed by many backtracks in the weeks following them.’

In this respect, the SAR experts recommend the following for 2018: to computerize the public administration and interconnect the data bases; decentralizing the economy; replacing the red-tape brushwood with performing computerized solutions; avoiding the global income tax and the progressive tax rate; releasing the public investments and toning down the rise of wages and pensions.

The second section of the report focuses on ‘the persistence of the bad governance phenomenon despite the 12 years of presence within the EU.’

‘Romania has never managed to substantially reform the state so as to increase the administrative capacity necessary for a better provision of public services and the economic growth’s sustainability,’ the report says.

‘The politicization of the central apparatus is many times motivated by gaining control of the resources (…). There has been a clear tendency to increase the number of public servants in the gov’t in the past five years. The highest increases are recorded in the years immediately after the electoral elections,’ the report adds.

‘The modern legislation adopted by Romania in the corporate governance legislation, due to pressures on behalf of the international financial bodies and the EC, has never been implemented properly, the lack of political will of the Executive being obvious. (…) The main spot where the bad governance can be perceived is in the EU funds’ sector,’ the reports adds.

A third section of the report analyses to what extent the three laws of justice affect the justice’s independence.

‘The amendments underway, after having been brought to an accord with the decisions of the Constitutional Court, are not of the nature to cause significant damage to the current functioning form of the Romanian judiciary. This analysis only proposes the adoption of an approach framework, so as to counteract the tendency of enhanced sloganization of certain concepts (rule of law, justice independence, parliament’s sovereignty, democracy, etc.),’ according to the report.

The quoted document recommends that Romania reform the Court of Accounts, the Tax Agency and a number of control institutions ‘that operate suboptimal although they do have resources and high-quality staff.’

‘Although there is no such thing as the perfect institution, the focus is shifted towards the reform of DNA, ANI (National Integrity Agency) or the Constitutional Court (CC) given that these bodies are those which record the highest achievements. Of course, DNA must become more transparent and more impartial, but the CCR is already the leader in this respect, and the mandates of the DNA heads are short enough so as to be controlled,’ the report further specifies.


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