Learner’s Submission: Citizen Engagement and Preventing Corruption (Case study: Georgia)

“Trust is an implicit contract between entities which within the private sector or public and has economic value in a society. Corruption and fraud in any society inflicts the most damage to trust (Vijay 2010). Corruption and bribery feed upon each other and lead to dysfunction of markets, private and public institutions, and ultimately loss of confidence and trust in democracy. Loss of fairness in the allocation of resources and/or income fosters distrust. The loss of trust in people, institutions and governments imposes high cost on a society. Building trust has to start with the leaders in business and government who recognize the fault lines. Loss of trust will impose a high price to free markets and democratic institutions.

Georgia was able to eliminate corruption in its sectors as a result of adoption of control mechanisms in patrol police, task administration customs, civic and public registers, accountability framework between the government, public service providers for and service users. Faced with corruption incidents such as bribes to obtain most of public services, Georgia put in place strict policy in order to curb the menace. Such measures were undertaken under the ‘zero tolerance’ policy of the government which have drastically reduced the prevalence of corruption.  The government was also open to public engagement through harnessing technology, using communication strategically and as a result of continued participation and implementation of policy proposals from different stakeholders improved public trust to the authorities in eliminating corruption and as a result attainment of favorable outcome. The government involved the public through the use of essential communication strategies such as informing, consultation as well as active participation, discussion papers, consultation policy, citizens’ right to access to information. The approach was a success since it led to establishment and implementation of a list of projects that resulted into positive outcomes such as strong political goodwill, establishing credibility early, launching frontal assault, attracting new staff, limiting state roles, proper coordination of government engagements, and harnessing technology which forms part of elements of success that are recommended in the United Nations conventions against corruption.

Anti-corruption authorities and citizens involvement

While handling the issue of corruption occurrences, ACA context involves preserving the operational integrity of an active investigation of corrupt activity which is a consideration that must be weighed against the desirability of openness to citizens’ scrutiny if the type of corruption involves organized crime or powerful groups. In such an occurrence, the strategy in handling the case must ask whether the participation of citizens will put them in danger and if possible allow for appropriate protection through confidentiality or security is usually one of the elements of the policy framework for access to information. By reviewing the magnitude of the case of corruption, ACA seeks to apply different level of engagement in order to contain the corruption incident. The level of engagement is needed to inform, consult or actively engage citizens. ACA also scrutinizes the holistic involvement of various stakeholders on the matter and respective interests in question and the extent to which such a matter and interest affects each stakeholder in short term and the long term as well as the success of the project. Such stakeholders include oversight agencies, parliament, and citizen watchdogs among others. After carrying out an in-depth analysis of the relationship of stakeholders’ interest, the ACA employ appropriate tools to facilitate the process of controlling the existence of corruption. These tools are designed in the forms of information, consultation, as well as active participation.

On the other hand, the civil society role is to ensure that the citizen needs are met by the existing government. Such needs include; easy and equitable access to service, opportunity to easily monitor government as well as adequate information to recognize corruption. This also can be made effective by ensuring that there is systematic capacity. Civil society ensures that citizens are involved by ensuring that there is democratization of societies, decentralization of power, rule of law, freedom of expression and capacity building, and institutional adjournment. They ensure public transparency through the use of whistle blowers protection, monitoring both public and private sectors to protect individuals who provide information on incidents that occurs in such sectors, assisting citizens in categorizing the corruption incidents, ensuring a holistic protection program that encompasses on the protection of citizens. In an event that they come across incidences of corruption, they hold demonstrations, or present the case to the existing authorities regardless of the individuals involved. Collaboration of public officers and the civil society is paramount in fighting corruption. This can be made possible by ensuring that public administration officers develop both soft and hard skills. Improvement of social welfare is attainable through workshops, seminars and training programs, creation of activities that facilitate the strengthening of institutional capacity, ensure the development of comprehensive databases and information support, exchange of experiences and best practices and also creation of follow up activities.” – Joseph Macharia Kimani – Nairobi, Kenya

Reference: www.worldbank.com

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