Government in a hurry to form Anti-Corruption Commission

Government in a hurry to form Anti-Corruption Commission
The government is in a hurry to form the Anti-Corruption Commission, because shortly, in early February, the presidential election will be announced. It will not be a good message before Brussels, as Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European affairs Bujar Osmani said, if another election is conducted without the Anti-Corruption Commission.

The government has already put the Law on Prevention of Corruption and Conflict of Interest in parliamentary procedure, and then withdrew it because VMRO-DPMNE blocked it in the amendment debate. The law has been sent to parliament again, but with a European flag, which means it will be put in a fast-track procedure, and a two-thirds majority will be required for it to be adopted. Which means only three days of parliamentary debate, and then voting.

Yesterday, at a news conference in the Parliament, SDSM Secretary General Kiracovski assessed VMRO-DPMNE's amendments and demands for changes to the draft law as non-European. He believes that their only goal is to reduce the power and efficiency in the fight against corruption.

After this, the ball is in the European Affairs Committee’s court, where the legal solution should be considered.

"We follow the EU recommendations that gave a very positive opinion on the draft law and therefore the law will be moved to Parliament with a European flag. Macedonia will receive a strong independent regulatory body that essentially, not declaratively, will stand up and oppose corruption in our country. This is how a country is built according to European standards," said Kiracovski.

One of the suggestions of VMRO-DPMNE is that the SCPC has no insight into the finances of the parties, that is for the control to go through the PRO, and according to certain information, it has been advocated for it to have five members, not seven, as it is anticipated, because they think that that way the government would have majority. They are convinced that these proposals are in line with the recommendations of GRECO.

The draft law, however, envisions the SCPC to have an insight into the financing of election campaigns.

"If the party really advocated a real fight against corruption, VMRO-DPMNE would have not demanded the Commission not to have direct insight into the accounts of officials. There can be no real fight against corruption if the SCPC, as an independent institution that is outside the executive, does not control the accounts of the elected officials. In order to weaken the position of the SCPC, VMRO-DPMNE proposes the establishment of a National Council - a request behind which an attempt is being made to dilute the powers of the SCPC and weaken the strongest independent institution for fighting corruption," said representatives of SDSM.

VMRO-DPMNE is categorical that it will not support the law in this form as proposed. They, as stated, are in favour of creating an effective Anti-Corruption Commission that will fight the criminal tendencies of this government. They even hope that the government will retire and it will withdraw it on its own, because according to them, the law is important and should be supported by all political parties.

"There is no Anti-Corruption Commission in Macedonia in the past 10 months. Under the pressure of VMRO-DPMNE and the public, the authorities remembered that the Anti-Corruption Commission must be selected. Even in the first week of 2019, the country has been shaken up by two new corruption scandals that are directly linked to government officials. The first in direct correlation with Minister Mila Carovska, whose husband received 1,5 million denars of national money, while the other was connected to Deputy Minister Jani Makraduli, whose wife and her company received 5.4 million denars from the citizens’ money," reacted VMRO- DPMNE yesterday.

Regardless of whether VMRO-DPMNE will change its mind or not in the additional negotiations that, according to the information, will occur in the new few days, the government hopes that the law can be pushed by the two-thirds majority, which will support the constitutional changes in accordance with the Agreement with Greece.

But the deadlines that are difficult to meet are the ones disputable. After the vote in the Assembly, an ad needs to be published for the selection of members, which lasts for at least 8 days, followed by interviews with the candidates, which should be broadcast live on the parliamentary TV channel, only after that the election and verification of the mandates of the president and the members of the Commission. According to Parliament sources, it takes more days than those in the Parliament's calendar. The constitutional revision is the priority now, therefore that the anti-corruption law will not be discussed at a parliamentary session anytime soon.

In the new anti-corruption law, the European Commission's remarks are put forward. A selection of candidates is envisaged to make an election commission composed of 7 members, not the Parliamentary Commission for election and appointments, in order to reduce the political dependence of the Commission. One member will be nominated by the Ombudsman, one representative from the Council for Cooperation between the Government and the Civil Sector for the Democracy and Rule of Law area, one member in the Council for Cooperation between the Government and the Civil Sector for the Media and Information Society area and two MPs from the ruling government and the opposition. After the selection of the candidates, a commission will organize an interview on which the members of the commission, representatives of the MANU, the associations of journalists, NGOs, the Ombudsman and the Interuniversity Conference can be appointed on the candidates' questions. The commission then submits the list of candidates to the Parliamentary Commission on Elections and Appointments that will be proposed to the Assembly.

The country has been without an anti-corruption commission for almost ten months, when five members of the Commission resigned after the bonus scandal and the fictitious travel expenses that they approved with an internal decision to themselves.

(NK)

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