Head of Kazakhstan's National Movement Against Corruption on Georgian approach to fighting corruption07 july 2015, 21:10
An international conference entitled Fight against Corruption, Professional Honesty: Experience of Georgia took place in Batumi, Georgia on June 30 - July 1. It was organized by the regional hub of the Civil Service Bureau in Astana with the support of the Civil Service Bureau of Georgia and UNDP.
After taking part in this conference, head of the Kazakh National Movement Against Corruption Zhanaru and Chairman of the Board of Directors of National Center Orleu Murat Abenov told Tengrinews about the methods Georgia used to fight corruption and whether they could be adapted for Kazakhstan.
According to him, the main difference between Kazakhstan’s approach in countering corruption and that of Georgia was the Georgia did not measure the success of its anti-corruption measures by the number of arrested bribe takers, but focused on preventing such instances.
“It (Georgia) does not have a dedicated state body responsible for fighting corruption that is tasked with arresting a certain number of bribe takers every year to fulfil its 'plan'. After all, when focusing on numbers, law enforcement agencies have to wait even when they are already aware of a criminal intent until the crime is actually committed and make the arrest only after bribery actually happens. But this harms the country. First, it harms its economy, by allowing act of corruption to take place. State budget is spent inefficiently, they (law enforcement agencies) let unscrupulous suppliers win tenders just to catch the officials red-handed. It also harms the society, because instead of protecting a civil servant from corruption, they (anti-corruption law enforcement agencies) pretended not to know about it and wait to the civil servant to go wrong. We are losing economic and human potential just for the sake of a good report on the fight against corruption,” Abenov explained.
He also emphasized that every Georgian citizen had access to income statements of officials. “For example, take the situation with income statements. Our officials submit them as well. But in Georgia they are available for public and public organizations are closely tracking what the officials own. Tax departments are now always able to track an official who buys a house under his uncle’s name and a car under his grandma’s name, but it is nearly impossible to hide such things from neighbors. We are not talking here about paid confidential informants for law enforcement agencies, Kazakhstan has those, but the approach has not proved effective so far. It (Georgia) has a completely different approach. For them it is a duty and civic responsibility to reveal corrupt officials. The difference is huge, (Georgian people do it) not for money, but out of love for their motherland,” Abenov elaborated.
In Georgia, it is honorable to report a crime, because by doing so one safeguards the public interest and the informants are not afraid of prosecution by third parties as they are protected by the state, Murat Abenov said.
“I think there is a lesson we should learn, too. We should not soplely rely on some good methods brought from outside or a leading expert for help. As long as the society itself is not involved in this fight (against corruption), it is useless,” Abenov said.
Currently, Georgia is introducing a so-called “red button” for corruption reporting, so that every citizen of Georgia is able to report an instance of corruption or a flaw in the system that lets bribery occur, anonymously by filling a special online form.
Abenov also pointed out that public procurement system in Georgia was transparent. "I have first heard the term “business intelligence" there. This concerns public procurement system, where everything is so transparent that every citizen can track all the stages from planning to the signing of the act of acceptance of goods and services directly through the website without needing any ingenious electronic keys like we have (in Kazakhstan)," he said.
Murat Abenov went on saying that ethical codes in Georgia were not just job interview questions, but high moral standards. "They teach it to the students and not just the applicants for civil service jobs as we do," Abenov said.
Highly qualified specialists play an important role in addressing the systematic problem of corruption, he said.
According to Murat Abenov, another measure that Georgia undertook was that Georgia’s lawmakers themselves conducted trainings and seminars, where they interpreted and explained the laws. “Rule-making is often so complicated that it is impossible not to make mistakes and some do it deliberately to revisit it later and discover a violation. When they (lawmakers) themselves have to directly explain to people how their laws work and where it is very important not to make a mistake, they try to write them (laws) with due quality," Abenov continued.
Part of the reason why Georgian rule-making is transparent lies in the fact that functions of Georgia’s ministries are different compared to those in Kazakhstan. “This is one more source of corruption. They devise rules and then they themselves find (a violation) and punish it,” Abenov explained.
Besides, the participants of the conference expressed interest in the way Kazakhstan formed its A Corpus of Civil Servants for high-ranking positions. “They were surprised at the fact that (in Kazakhstan) no one can get an appointment to a key position without taking part in a competition,” Abenov said.
Murat Abenov said that the exchange of experience during the conference was very useful, but it was impossible to implement all those measures in Kazakhstan as they were without taking into account the country’s local realities and specifics.
Reporting by Aidana Usupova, writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina