Ten months since the state operates without an Anti-Corruption Commission, yesterday the public experienced the first reading of the Draft Law on Prevention of Corruption and Conflict of Interest as a kind of a sensation. The new legal solution was supported by 58 lawmakers, while 16 voted against. With the amendments in the draft law, as the Government suggests, the competences of the Anti-Corruption Commission are increasing, but the criteria for selecting its members are tightened as well.
According to the proposed amendments, the members of the Anti-Corruption Commission will also be allowed to look into bank account secrets, open procedures before the courts, will have control in the financing of political parties, and submit separate reports from the control to the Parliament. In that direction, they will monitor the legality of the financing of election campaigns. In addition, they will have direct electronic access to the database of several institutions – the Ministry of Interior, the Employment Agency, the PRO, the Pension Fund… but not the Public Procurement Agency, which is also a serious database.
But what’s stands out is that the Anti-Corruption Commission will continue to be composed of seven members, although under the previous version of the law that figure was reduced to five, which all parties involved agreed. Still, in the public debate, it was felt that due to “equitable representation” some political parties would require to go back to seven members. According to certain information, DUI insisted on such a solution, because in the seven member concept, two seats (and not just one) are guaranteed for members of the Albanian ethnic community.
“The European Commission has serious objections in that part. Estimates are that with a growing number of members the danger of partisation of the institution increases. Just make a comparison with Slovenia, you will see that the local regulatory bodies have almost twice as many members as ours. I think that the proposer will have to accept the remarks and that, in the end, we will have a solution with five members,” former member of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Vanja Mihajlova, told Nezavisen Vesnik.
Regardless of the professional dimension of the president and the members of the commission, at the end of the day, they will be elected by a political decision, as before, in the Macedonian Parliament. Does it narrow the space for independent and impartial action?
“In the end, we all come to the point that it depends on the people. In other words, whether they will succumb to possible political pressures and will become politically loyal, or will their professional and personal integrity prevail. According to the new legal solution, the civil sector can ask questions to the candidates, which will be transferred to a parliamentary channel. The public at the very beginning will be able to see what kind of staff it is “, said Mihajlova. She estimates that the atmosphere in society has changed drastically, the public is far more sensible and reacts more rigorously to unlawfulness and impunity, which, according to her, will be an additional pressure for the new team.
However, there are strange stunts occurring in the Parliament. The government defends the draft law, but for the opposition it is the worst ever. And only a few days ago from the parliamentary chambers got the information that before the presidential election in the spring of next year, a new – transitional structure of the Anti-Corruption Commission could be elected, according to the old law and with a mandate of only a few months.
The president of the Elections and Appointment Commission, Ilija Dimovski from VMRO-DPMNE, allegedly initiated the completion of the Anti-Corruption Commission in the event of early parliamentary elections two months ago, in the period when the two-thirds majority for accession to constitutional changes was uncertain. At that time, the Parliament adopted a decision with a consensus for announcing a competition that was attended by about 40 candidates – including former Public Prosecutor Aleksandar Nakov, Maja Malahova, former judge and president of the State Appeals Commission on Public Procurement, Zlate Dimovski from the Faculty of Security, lawyer Angele Ilievski who defended Zoran Verusevski, Cedomir Damjanovski from the Lustration Commission etc.
It sounds unbelievable, but our information says that among the applicants is one of the five members of the Anti-Corruption Commission who resigned in March after serious misconduct of members of the audit report – forged accounts, false travel orders, unrealistic sums for renting apartments, for which the procedure was initiated by the public prosecutor’s office after receiving information. Allegedly, according to our sources, it was a member of DUI, which speaks enough about the kind of “shameless staff” the institution has so far been filled with.
Yesterday, Ilija Dimovski from the parliamentary speaker said that there was a danger during the presidential elections in March next year that we do not have an Anti-Corruption Commission.
“In order to publish an advertisement, a session of the Assembly is required, in order to select the commission, a separate meeting is also required. We will not have an Anti-Corruption Commission during the presidential elections if we do not choose it according to the old law,” said Dimovski. The opposition proposed that the President of the Anti-Corruption Commission be their proposal, which will give it greater legitimacy, but also the possibility for it to exercise some control. Whatever it may happen, still the fight against corruption is alarmingly slow.