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

23/02/2015

“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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Learner’s Submission: Georgia’s Anti-corruption Reforms and Success Stories

10/02/2015

” INTRODUCTION
The atmosphere was tense and charged on the cold and cloudy night of November 22, 2003. Georgia’s beleaguered and stoic population had finally had enough, with pervasive corruption, ever-present crime, and dysfunctional public services. Criminal gangs, called “thieves-in-law,”operated with impunity, engaging in extortion, smuggling, carjacking, theft, and protection rackets. They often allied with government officials to rig contracts and otherwise plunder the treasury. Many corrupt government officials had been enriching themselves for years. Street demonstrations had grown in intensity every day since the flawed, corruption-riddled parliamentary elections several weeks earlier.

ANTICORRUPTION REFORMS
Economic reform and anti-corruption were placed at the top political agenda of the Georgian government led by former President Saakashvili. Since 2004, Georgia had made tremendous progress in the clamp down on corruption and reinstatement of good governance. The total dissolution of the corrupt traffic police in 2004 and the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Interagency Council in 2008 were successful examples of the reform.

FACTORS TIRIGERED FOR THE SUCCESS OF GEORGIA IN ITS REFORMS
Georgia achieved remarkable results in reducing corruption in a short period of time. Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer ranked Georgia first in the world in 2010 in terms of the relative reduction in the level of corruption and second in the world in terms of the public’s perception of the government’s effectiveness in fighting corruption. A set of cross-cutting factors emerge that have driven Georgia’s success story.
1. Exercise strong political will. The overwhelming mandate from voters and the dire reality of the situation Georgia’s new leaders inherited bolstered their will to act quickly and forcefully.
2. Establish credibility early. The new leaders struck hard against corruption to establish early credibility and extend the window of opportunity voters had given them. High-profile arrests of corrupt officials and criminals signaled zero tolerance for corruption.
3. Launch a frontal assault. Rather than spending precious time strategizing, worrying about sequencing, or consulting on action plans, the government launched a rapid and direct assault on corruption in a broad array of public services. It acted quickly to keep vested interests at bay.
4. Attract new staff. The leaders of the Rose Revolution formed the core of the government’s executive branch. They looked outside politics and government to recruit qualified, often Western-educated, staff to spearhead the reforms and paid them well.
5. Limit the role of the state. The reformers shared a vision of limited government. They also believed that limiting contact between citizens and civil servants.
6. Adopt unconventional methods. Extraordinary times required innovative approaches. A special fund financed from outside sources paid for increased salaries and bonuses for a short initial period.
7. Develop a unity of purpose, and coordinate closely. A small group of policy makers, headed by the president, formed a core team that shared common values, coordinated closely, and stayed together.
8. Harness technology. The government used technology extensively to limit contact between the state and citizens, implementing e-filing of taxes, electronic payments for services, and traffic cameras.

CITIZENS’ ENGAGEMENT
Involving citizens in governance leads to high levels of social trust, which has been linked to reduced corruption in many countries. The involvement of citizens can help to reduce corruption simply by participating in the governance activities of their locality, region or nation but also as part of targeted anti-corruption strategies such as the work of anti-corruption authorities. What we have seen from Georgia’s experience is this. In Georgia, Citizens were involved through information, consultation and active participation. The government realized the need to enlist citizens and foster their support, thus public enlightenment and public access to information on the reforms were the key factors that contributed immensely in actualizing the reforms, especially in government effort to streamline and eliminate unnecessary procedures, where junior level staff often gives feedback and suggestions on the ways to improve service delivery. By far, it might have been the core of the success stories scored in Georgia as mentioned above.

CONTEXTUAL FACTORS TO DEVELOP PUBLIC TRUST
The reformers viewed that corruption dominated much of the lives of ordinary citizens in Georgia. Intentionally, and of course in certain compulsory circumstances, the governed will be obliged to pay bribes, as they may not be able to get appropriate services in public institutions. This is the ultimate manifestation of the prevalence of corruption in particular and bad governance in general in a certain country (in this case Georgia). The next step after the identification of the problem and its intensity and impact on public service rendering, is to take steps to reduce and if possible to eradicate such plague in the country. However, measures that do not put the integration of the citizen (the society), civil society organizations, the government and other actors at its center, are more likely to be an unsuccessful. While this is done, these various stakeholders will develop a sense of satisfaction and ownership in every activities taking place in their country. Thus, the reformers debated the approach to reforms in a series of meetings and concluded that the reforms could not be gradual or in parts.” – Mohammed Yimer – Arba minch, Ethiopia


Learner’s Submission: Case Study – Georgia

05/02/2015

“The World Bank report of anti-corruption reforms in Georgia,

  1. Where they reactive, preventative or proactive anti-corruption reforms?

The World Bank anti-corruption reforms where REACTIVE, this is true because beginning in 1995-following a tumultuous period after independence that included three armed conflicts-the government restored some security and disbanded paramilitary groups that had vied for power since independenc. Nearly all key macroeconomic indicators increased significantly between 1992-94 and 1997. After years of contraction, the economy grew at a rapid clip, inflation was tamed and international increased from about 3 weeks to 2.5 months worth of imports.

  • Where citizens involved by information, consultation or active participation?

The World Bank anti-corruption reforms where ACTIVE PARTICIPATION, this is true because in 2000, the government launched an effort to tame the growing crises of corruption in the public sector. President Shevardnadze appointed a group of seven experts to elaborate a national anti-corruption program and guidelines for its implementation. On the basis of the work of the expert group, the president signed two decrees in April and May 2001 authorizing the formation of a 12-member coordinating council.

  • Did they use legal regulation, policy, consultation or operational tools?

The World Bank anti-corruption reforms in Georgia used LEGAL REGULATION because all branches of government were corrupt. The first meeting of the cabinet revealed just how dire things were.  David Bakradze, who served at the National Security Council, said I was participating in the first National Security council Meeting the day after the revolution when the minister of defense stood up and said I don’t have food for my soldiers, only enough bread left for a day and a half. And then the minister of finance also stood up and said well there is no a single tetra [cent] in the treasury now.

. In one of his acts Zurab Nugaideli, the newly appointed finance minister, summoned tax collectors to a meeting at which they were told unequivocally that there will be zero tolerance for corruption and that henceforth they will be judged by their ability to collect revenue. The first priority was electricity supply.

  • What contextual factors did the reformers have to take into account in order to gain the trust of citizens?

The World Bank anti-corruption reforms in Georgia took into account the following contextual factor in order to gain trust of citizens:

  1. Exercising strong political will
  2. Establish credibility early
  3. Launch a frontal approach assault
  4. Attract new staff
  5. Limit the role of the state
  6. Adopt unconventional methods
  7. Develop a unity of purpose, and coordinate closely
  8. Tailor international experience to local conditions
  9. Harness technology
  10. Use communication strategically

The above in turn resulted into:

  • Stronger accountability framework
  • Increase in trust
  • Creation of a service culture
  • Decline in corruption
  • Sharp reduction in crime rates

ANTI-CORRUPTION AUTHORITIES AND CITIZENS INVOLVEMENT

  • How they respond to contest

Below is the response to anti-corruption managed by anti-corruption authorities

51% join an anti-corruption authority

56% take part in peaceful protest

56% spread the word about corruption through social media

72% signed a petition

The objectives they pursue

The following are the objectives they pursue:

  • Institutional support
  • Public administration capacity
  • Tools for capacity building
  • Capacities that individuals need easy and equitable access to services
  • Protection for citizen opportunities to easily monitor government
  • Public sector whistle blowing
  • Adequate information to recognize corruption.
  • How to influence social attitudes.

The levels of engagement they use

  • Power: formal rules of engagement at the micro level but broad base human rights reform may be needed for free speech and association, equal access to justice.
  • Capacity: specialized training in social and community development to transfer knowledge to citizen without domination.
  • Incentive: demonstrating the tangible benefits of becoming involved.

The types of issues they address

  • System capacity: That’s how they engage citizens involvement supported by factors e.g. democratization of society decentralization, rule of law, freedom of expression, capacity building.
  • Engagement: civil engagement initiatives also adjustments to institutions, value change introduction of new regulations and most importantly from within.

The stakeholders they engage

  • Media also has a very important role to play in both highlighting genuine public issue as well as connecting citizens to public institutions.
  • Legal and institutional frameworks
  • Public administration
  • Social institutions.

The above are the stakeholders through which anti-corruption authorities involved citizens in preventing corruption.” – Paul Hassan – Takum, Nigeria


Learner’s Submission: Case Study Report for Georgia

12/01/2015

“Georgia has gained a new innovative platform against corruption in public sector where corruption is not the adopted culture throughout the country and it is trying to renovate the new framework on legacy so that corruption can be reduced as well as destroyed for the common masses.  This country is focusing their eye on other countries as well to make new regulations for eradicating corruption.  It is trying to engage the people of the country at a stretch so that the corruption can be avoided day by day.  Only the citizens of the country can remove the corruption as the responsibility for eradication of corruption bestowed on them.  Hence they are taking the responsibility with great smile and executing their performance as per their level best.  As a result, Georgia is making trust among citizens and also making the performance of confidence building motion for future perspective.

Georgia’s analysis in the past indicates that the corruption can be eradicated with reformative approach by making new framework of regulations and it is only possible by engaging the people of the country in the best possible manner.

Yes, I do believe that Georgia has reactive, preventive or proactive anti-corruption reforms so that the anti-corruption laws can be spread out among citizens of the country.  It is showing as per their reformative approach that, if corruption can be reduced or destroyed in a complete manner, the country can be more beautiful than the current scenario.  Hence, the country is trying to achieve their target level and would like to reach in the peak of success.

Yes, the citizens of the country are involved by information, consultation or active participation as the law enforcement agencies are taking action in due course of time for proper action as a preventive measures of corruption.

The contextual factors which were taken by the reformers to gain the trust of citizens are as below :

  • Spreading out the responsibility handover mechanism among citizens;
  • Invitation for active participation;
  • Delegated power for reporting by citizens for corruption policy throughout the usage of mass media;
  • Submission of improvement ideas from the citizens of the country;
  • Strategic communication system;
  • New regulations and framework on sustainable development policy;
  • Faithfulness of public accountability.

In short, the current system of Georgia’s anti-corruption reforms has shown a very success story to public domain which needs to put concerted effort into sustaining the relatively recent anti-corruption measures, laying out the work that still remains to be done in a broad manner.” – Tapas Kumar Debnath – West Bangal, India


Learner’s Submission: NGO’s Role in Preventing Corruption

09/01/2015

“The main difference between the activities adopted by anti-corruption authorities and NGOs is the ease with which citizens can participate in anti-corruption campaigns and safeguards provided to the citizens. The objective of the NGOs is to reduce of overall level of corruption and increasing awareness about desirability and necessity of anti-corruption strategies.  The NGOs and Citizen groups mainly uses interventions through the press and informal channels whereas government uses administrative channels for anti-corruption measures. NGOs use surveys for garnering grassroots involvement. NGOs uses information strategy whereas methods adopted by anti-corruption authorizes is preventive and punitive. NGOs and Citizen Groups stimulate citizens for standing against corrupt practices, increase capacities of the stakeholders and facilitates them whereas anti-corruption authorities investigates the cases of corruption, provide greater transparency of public offices and easy access of public information. The scope of scope of anti-corruption authorities is narrow whereas NGOs and Citizen Groups cover is wider in scope. NGOs and Citizen Groups focus more on social mobilization. The objectives of NGOs and Citizen group is to monitor work of public and private institutions, close watch on conduct of public officials including politicians, identifying level and causes of corruption and to draw public attention to the instances of corruptions. They also scrutinize the working of anti-corruption authorities and implementation of the anti-corruption laws. Besides government the citizen groups monitors working of private institutions, financial institutions, political parties, parliament and even judiciary generally out of purview of public anti-corruption authorities. They focus on change of societal attitude towards corruption. Although as per course module, for success of anti-corruption authorities depend on the citizen’s support but from the experience of my country I can say with confidence that ACAs have failed to mobilize and encourage involving in anti-corruption movement. The complaints are required to furnish affidavits about complaints in many cases. Most of the times they do not know where to report and to whom to report. The context of corruption also differs for anti-corruption authorities and NGOs and Citizen Groups. As mentioned earlier ACA generally focus on bureaucratic and political corruption by way of investigation and prosecution, prevention and monitoring whereas Citizen Groups and NGOs focus covers other form of corruption such as judiciary, private sector and political parties also.” – Dr. Laxmi Narayan Yadav – Haryana, India


Learner’s Submission: Anti-Corruption Reform: the Case of Georgia

26/12/2014

“Georgia’s war against corruption is without a doubt one of the most successful fights against corruption in the world. It exhibited good example to many developing countries where corruption has developed such strong roots that it now appears as though it is part of the people’s tradition. It brought to view the fact that corruption as a virus to any society can be paralysed if appropriate measures are taken at the right time.

It must be pointed out that the successful eradication of corruption in Georgia could not have been effective without active participation of the country’s citizens. It is therefore imperative to state that any government willing to embark on a fight against corruption must engage its citizens from the very first step of the campaign for success to be attained. Doing this ensures trust between the government and its citizens. This also brings about transparency, accountability and justice.

Not engaging the citizens can have an adverse effect. Here is an example: In 2003 the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria introduced the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to checkmate the financial crimes in the country, a decision that came to life after immense pressure from Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), when it named Nigeria as one of the 23 countries not co-operating to international community’s effort to wage the war against money laundering. The aim of the agency failed woefully and financial crimes in the country rose to an astonishing level. Even though the EFCC still exists to this day, it merely serves as a government outfit set to reduce unemployment in the country and not to kill off financial crimes as was the objective from inception. Curiously, the same corruption that led to the establishment of the agency also strangled the agency to permanent silence.

The reason for this failure is not far-fetched: the Nigerian government did not involve its citizens at any stage of the initiative, and so corruption freely infiltrated into the agency, unchecked.

The Georgian approach was both reactive and preventive in nature. It was reactive in the sense that the government of Georgia put a fight by taking necessary steps to end corruption in the country through the zero tolerance policy, and preventive measures were put in place after their war against corruption became a success.

The Georgian anti-corruption battle provided Legal Regulation for the citizens to access public documents such as the online assets declaration which came to life in 2010 as part of the anti-corruption campaign.” – Elias Ozikpu – Lagos, Nigeria


Learner’s Submission: Anti-Corruption Case Study – Georgia

23/09/2014

“Preamble

The situation in Georgia before 2004 worrisome, corruption permeated nearly every aspect of life in the country. The public sector gave room for corruption that negatively impacted on the entire economy. The Police, Tax authorities, Customs, aviation and many other sectors of the economy were corrupt. The new government started in January, 2004 with an empty treasury and failed state. This situation forces the new government to start a full-flagged anticorruption crusade to save the country from total collapse.

In the quest to rescue the country and to establish credibility the new government  focused on series of reforms in all the sectors of the economy with specific and early rescue of the patrol police to cub crimes and tax reform to salvage the country empty treasury. This led to the arrest and subsequent prosecution of criminals and corrupt officials of the previous government. The reforms sought to gain citizens trust through information and active participation.

The anticorruption reforms in Georgia were successful in involving the citizens to gain their trust in the following areas:

  • REACTIVE, PROACTIVE AND PREVENTATIVE ANTICORRUPTION REFORMS: The early approaches used in each of the reforms are reactive in nature, they include disengagement of 16,000 traffic police and replacing them with 2,300 new once in few month, arrest and subsequent prosecution of criminals and corrupt officials of the previous government, amnesty in tax collection, plea bargain arrangement to recoup looted public fund, prosecution of corrupt tax officials among others. On the other hand, the proactive approaches include, changing citizen’s mindset about criminals through communication of information on television portraying criminals are no more respected in the society and the need for credibility in government businesses. Others include proactive anticorruption awareness campaign on new policies. Recruitment of new staff and subsequent training in Customs, undercover Agents and tax authorities as well as declaration of income and assets of public officials on a dedicated website for public information are among the preventative approaches adopted in the reforms.
  • INFORMATION, CONSULTATION AND ACTIVE PARTICIPATION: Citizens in Georgia were involved in anticorruption reforms through information, consultation and active participation. They were informed about the zero tolerance for corruption at the early stage of the reforms, about the reactive measures taken against criminals and corrupt officials, changes in rules and regulations, policy and institutional changes through television news and official websites. On the other hand, citizens were involved through consultation such as right to report corrupt government officials, receiving petitions, investigation and prosecution of offenders. In addition, the Georgians were given rights to use mechanisms that allow them to hold those in power accountable through active participation to influence their elections/selection for government positions and participated actively in decision making process.
  • LEGAL REGULATION, POLICY, INSTITUTIONAL AND OPERATIONAL TOOLS: The anticorruption reforms in Georgia used legal framework that gave citizens rights to access information e.g assets declaration on a dedicated official website by public officials. They were also involved in consultation through right to petition public officials. In addition, they were allowed to participate in government by influencing the selection processes of government officials during the reforms. Also, policies that aid communication of information about the reforms on television news and telegraphs are put in place in order to guide consultation and participation of CSOs and NGOs in decision making.

Institutions responsible in each sector were mandated to provide access to information about new reforms and changes communicated to the citizens. New institutional arrangements to address issues bordering on appeals process and disputes resolution that includes members from civil society organisations are steps toward strengthening the accountability framework and give room for citizens consultation and active participation. This gave the citizens formal presence in decision making forums.

However, operating tools such as toll-free numbers and adverts are provided to allow citizens access to information on the reforms activities. Opinion polls, workshops, draft policies and public hearings were conducted at different levels of implementation in order to provide avenues for citizens consultations and active participation by being presence at such forums and participate in decision making.

CONTEXTUAL FACTORS TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT BY REFORMERS IN ORDER TO GAIN THE TRUST OF CITIZENS: In order to gain the trust of citizens the reformers have to put certain factors into consideration. These include; strong political will, establishment of early credibility, launching frontal assault on the criminals and corrupt officials, limiting direct contact with customers in the administration of taxes and customs, adopting  unconventional methods in financing early reforms and increased incentives for police and tax officials. Other factors as observed from the case study include, close monitoring of the reforms implementation, tailoring international experience learned from other countries of the world to local conditions and  harnessing technology in the implementation of reforms e.g use of computers to check if a driver has a license. Effective use communications strategies in order to gain the trust of the citizens for the success of the reforms by the government and involving  citizens in decision making are some of the major promising factors. ” – Murtala Bello Kankanu – Kaduna, Nigeria


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