The Society and the State Authorities should have one common Objective: Anti-Corruption Discussion on the Social Sphere

Anti-corruption struggle cannot be effective without the participation of citizens, stated the deputy head of the Cooperation Section at the EU Delegation to Armenia Mr. Jose-Maria Medina-Navarro at the anti-corruption event on the topic of “Corruption Risks in the Social Sphere: Public Control Challenges” held in Ararat on 22 April 2015. “What corruption brings, it`s first of all wrong incentives to society. Corruption also lowers the accountabilities of the local authorities and municipalities. Citizens need to feel that they can hold the Government accountable. At the moment there are discussions on the anti-corruption strategy, action plans, and we also need to engage citizens. We are here to contribute and support, we are not here to lecture”, mentioned Mr. Navarro.

Citizens` participation in the anti-corruption struggle was also higlighted by the Coordinator of the anti-corruption projects of the OSCE Yerevan Office Mrs. Naira Gyulnazaryan. “Without citizens` participation these reforms won`t be effective, and thus we mark the importance of the participation of the Civil Society Organizations, as well as the role of private sector in this sphere”, she said.

“Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” Project Manager Mr. Karen Zadoyan referred to the social sphere presenting the anti-corruption strategy, as well as the corruption risks in the sphere. He stated: “Our organization, as well as the Anti-Corruption Coalition will pursue a deep cooperation with the state authorities, as the objective of both the society and the state authorities should be one – provide high quality efficient services to the people also in the social sphere”.

The welcoming speeches were followed by presentations on the existing issues in the social sphere and the challenges of public control over those. The “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption promotion” project assistant Rima Sargsyan presented the results of the 1st year implementation of the “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” Project. She informed that multiple anti-corruption seminars and trainings have been held in Yerevan and 5 regions, and the best result was the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Coalition. “Around 70 CSOs have been involved at the Anti-Corruption Coalition establishment, which is quite a large number for our reality and primarily in the fight against corruption”.

International Expert of the “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” Project Carl Ulbricht presented the statistics in the sphere, speaking about the public control challenges in the social sphere and the activities of the Anti-Corruption Coalition of CSOs.

Local Expert of the Project Marat Atovmyan referred to the legal acts regulating the social security sphere, to the current situation, the reports of the Human Rights Defender and presented the judicial practice.

Legal Advisor of the “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” Arnold Vardanyan presented the AYLA`s study on the “Corruption risks in the social sphere”.

Presentations were followed by a discussion. Participants underlined the aspects of concern. President of the “Development Center” NGO Hripsime Hovhannisyan spoke about the social stereotypes, suggesting to undertake a serious work in the Educational system. “There is a serious issue of stereotypes here, and for the coming 5-6 years no tangible results will be achieved with the sector of the society you`re working with now , because if we also look at the statistics, in two out of 10 cases they will try to protect their rights. If we want to break the stereotypes, we have to work seriously in the system of education and work with the sector of the society which is now developing its civil consciousness, thus we should work in schools”.

Member of the “Mission Armenia” Charity NGO Zaruhi Sargsyan presented a simple, but a common issue arising during the provision of pensions and benefits at postal offices: “The employee keeps 500 AMD for herself from the benefit of 17000 AMD,  I asked why she was taking the 500 AMD to herself as the benefit was 17000 AMD,  and she said that the beneficiary told her to do so, while when I asked the beneficiary about whether they came to that agreement he said no and that he was surprised at being given less money. I made the employee to give the money back, but you can`t be present there every time so that to prevent this situation from happening. These deductions are common in all the postal offices”, said the specialist.

Towards the end the participants promised to present their own suggestions on making the work of the responsible authorities more efficient.

Gevorg Tosunyan