New programmes help Balkans work through corruption

09/07/2014

Experts believe that gaining citizens' participation is an effective strategy in identifying areas vulnerable to corruption.

By Biljana Pekusic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 09/07/14

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Unfettered corruption is a negative force on the regional economy, costing all of Europe an estimated 120 billion euros a year. [AFP]

Anti-corruption experts are working with local authorities in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to develop programmes to deter corruption and encourage good government.

The programmes, developed by the Foundation for Local Development (FPDL) from Romania and the World Bank Institute, have already been implemented in several countries, including Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia and Romania.

Corruption costs the European economy an estimated 120 billion euros a year.

"Corruption occurs most easily in institutions and systems that do not have adequate procedures to prevent corruption," Ana Vasilache, of the Bucharest-based Partners Foundation for Local Development, told SETimes.

Vasilache, who spoke recently in Belgrade at a regional conference on corruption, said previous efforts in the region to stop corruption were ineffective, so the region is now implementing smarter strategies.

"Instead of searching for corrupt individuals in public administration and institutions, our program activated by managers and employees in these sectors themselves identify procedures that allow corruption, remove them and replace them," Vasilache said.

The programme includes training thousands of employees in the public sector to help identify procedures and policies that can be corrupted and initiate mechanisms to introduce new policies. As many as 200 mayors in the region also received training to reduce corruption on a municipal level.

The training was recently completed and implemented in Beočin, the city municipality Pantelej in Nis and at Zrenjanin hospital.

"The presidents of the municipalities, Srdjan Savic and Bogdan Cvejic, and the hospital director Gordana Kozlovacki established a working group in which employees identify regulations and procedures vulnerable to corruption," Blazo Nedic, of the association Partners for Democratic Change Serbia, told SETimes.

The programme helps officials and workers identify areas that can be improved.

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"Corruption to the citizens of the Balkan region, until recently, represented a necessary way of life, especially in areas where people need urgent interventions and services," Katarina Simic of the Serbia Anti-Corruption Agency told SETimes.

Simic added that that more than 60 percent of citizens in Serbia have experience with corruption, and that the average value of the bribe was 250 euros.

"With our help, some 4,500 government organisations did the integrity plans, which mapped weaknesses in procedures and are working to improve them," Simic said.

How does corruption harm you and your municipality? Add your thoughts in the space below.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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