Fight against Corruption in Local Government Bodies must be Systemic

The government should show success stories in the fight against corruption and the public will feel these changes in the life, that there is a progress – a positive move, President of the Armenian Layers Association, Coordinator of the Secretariat of the CSO Anti-Corruption Coalition Karen Zadoyan, said at the anti-corruption event that took place today in Gyumri. He said that the main cause of the current situation is the systemic corruption and impunity.

Karen Zadoyan said that in cooperation with the government they have has already submitted their proposals on criminalization of illicit enrichment and creation of the independent anti-corruption body, which were accepted by the government and now the bills are being developed, which will be presented to the National Assembly in the autumn of this year.

Mr. Hovsep Simonyan, the Governor of the Shirak Region was present at the anti-corruption event “Corruption Risks in Local Government”. He attached much importance to such events and noted that the consistency of the fight against corruption has already warned some officials to refrain from committing abuse. Mr. Vagharshak Mkhitaryan, the Deputy Mayor of Gyumri, also attached importance to fight against corruption. At the same time they did not agree with the title, noting in particular that there are no corruption problems in this field.

Referring to the statement of the officials, Mr. Zadoyan said that some years ago, when there was a problem to conduct monitoring in the notary system, the officials of the system claimed at the meetings that there were no such problems in the sphere. “We did not start a dispute. After implementation of the monitoring, Prime Minister announced at the cabinet meeting that we have a noticeable problem with corruption in the notarial system. This seems to be déjà vu.”

According to Mr. Karen Hakobyan, the Head of the Penitentiary and Anti-Corruption Policy Development Department of the Staff of the RA Ministry of Justice, one of the best options to minimize the corruption risks in the Local self-government bodies is to expand their powers and make them accountable to other members of the community rather than to the superiors.

Mr. Emin Yeritsyan, the President of the Union of Communities of Armenia, in his speech noted some of the most important reforms which performance will significantly reduce corruption in the sector. First of all, the Head of the local self-government must understand that he has no superior, stop reporting like a bureaucrat to a superior but he has to report to the members of the community. Secondly, the establishment of a mechanism for control by members of the same community. Today, few people have the desire to be a member of the community council, as the council has little control levers.

It is also important to solve bureaucratic problems. Emin Yeritsyan said, there are media reports that the head of the community has written out his money to support a relative. Sometimes they resort to such a step in order to solve other pressing problems, because there is no other mechanism to write off the money. The public behavior of the community heads is an important issue as well, and also the direct contacts with the community members and not feel like an “official” and alienated from the community

Mr. Marat Atovmyan, the local expert of “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” project spoke about the importance of ensuring integrity in the sphere of community service and introduced the international experience. He noted that transparency/accountability, professionalism, ethics and prevention of corruption are the elements of integrity. According to him, the RA legislation has certain mechanisms for local government to work in good faith, but not in all cases the letter of the law is maintained.

Miss Mariam Zadoyan, the local expert of “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” project presented the importance and prospects for cooperation with CSOs in the implementation of anti-corruption reforms in this area. She noted in her speech that the development of strategies for effective participation and decision-making, supervision, implementation of national awareness campaigns against corruption, implementation of the campaign, the media and journalistic investigations, research of the provided services , etc., are really important.

After the presentations, there were serious discussions, questions and issues were raised. The community heads of Shirak marz who also attended the anti-corruption event also presented their problems existing in this field, which are systematic and should have systemic solutions.