The Forthcoming Anti-Corruption Strategy in Kosovo: How to hold onto lessons learned?

November 8, 2017

Photo credit: hans s via Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

Espresso.Insights

Authors

Delfinë Elshani
economics, migration issues, trade, privatization and budgetary planning
Erëza Pula
economics, foreign direct investment, good governance

Kosovo is characterized by persistently high levels of corruption, even though the fight against corruption has been placed at the top of the agendas of ruling political parties. While Kosovo has shown commitment towards combating corruption by passing a number of laws, regulations and strategies, these initiatives were largely unsuccessful in fighting this phenomenon. According to Transparency International’s2016 Corruption Perception Index, Kosovo ranks 95th globally with a score of 36 (0-100 scale), indicating that the public sector in Kosovo is perceived to be highly corrupt. The fact that Kosovo ranked 103rd, 110th, 111th and 105th on the Corruption Perception Index in 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012, respectively, suggests that corruption is deeply rooted in the economic, social and political spheres.

The Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan 2013-2017, drafted by the Anti-Corruption Agency (the core administrative institution responsible for combating corruption in Kosovo) and adopted by the Assembly in February 2013, succeeded the previous anti-corruption strategies of 2012-2016, 2009-2011 and 2004-2007. The current Strategy aims to progressively and sustainably reduce corruption, strengthen institutional integrity, promote good governance, and properly implement the measures set out in the Action Plan. More specifically, the Anti-Corruption Strategy and its Action Plan include measures to combat the illegal financing of political parties and terrorism, the informal economy, money laundering, and, among others, financial crimes.

As the Strategy is in its final year of implementation, the Anti-Corruption Agency has already initiated the drafting process of the new Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan 2018-2022. The Agency has already established the Working Group and is currently in the process of completing a rough draft of the Strategy. In order to develop a Strategy which comprehensively addresses and ameliorates the current challenges relating to corruption in Kosovo, the Agency will gather feedback and input from representatives of all relevant institutions and sectors covered by the Strategy.

Having analyzed the Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan 2013-2017 and monitored its implementation, Group for Legal and Political Studies suggests five lessons learned which should be taken into account when drafting and implementing the new Anti-Corruption Strategy and its Action Plan.

The comprehensive inclusion and effective engagement of all stakeholders

The drafting and implementation processes for the previous Anti-Corruption Strategy lacked proper cooperation among the Agency, relevant institutions, and civil society organizations, as highlighted in a previous GLPS Report. This lack of cooperation prompted participating CSOs to withdraw from the process. The private sector was also reluctant to cooperate with the Agency under the previous Strategies, and as a result the entire sector was excluded from the Anti-Corruption Strategy 2013-2017.

Given the lack of concrete results in the fight against (persistently high levels of) corruption in Kosovo, strengthening the cooperation between all stakeholders is of paramount importance. Adequate cooperation among the Agency, institutions, private sector and CSOs would leave less room for government abuse and lead to a more transparent monitoring and tracking process. Additionally, such cooperation would incentivize these stakeholders to construct a more comprehensive Strategy and Action Plan, devise well-specified and quantifiable actions/measures, contribute to the proper implementation of the Strategy and, consequently, achieve more substantial results.

Identification of concrete benchmarks and quantifiable indicators

A vital shortcoming of the previous Strategy and Action Plan was the lack of benchmarks identified and utilized to assess the success of certain implemented measures and actions. The Action Plan also requires institutions to build their capacities by either increasing the number of employees and/or providing trainings for their staff. For instance, the Action Plan mandates an increase in the number of inspectors in correctional services in order to suppress corruption within law enforcement institutions and mandates special trainings (such as those dedicated to enhancing transparency of party funding, strengthening the ACA’s human resource capacities, and enhancing the Assembly’s capacity to scrutinize and influence appointments to executive positions)which are intended to strengthen administrative and professional capacities and improve the transparency, efficiency, accountability, and performance of institutions. However, as the previously referenced GLPS Report pinpoints, the Action Plan does not specify concrete benchmarks for such indicators, i.e. sufficient number of employees or trainings, which could set the institutions on a path towards successfully combating corruption. When drafting the new Strategy and Action Plan, it is essential to incorporate clear, quantifiable, and well specified benchmarks for all measures designed to combat and prevent corruption.

Assessment of the actual situation and the implications of laws and regulations

The Strategy and Action Plan 2013-2017 do not explicitly specify the need for policy-makers to assess the situation and possible implications vis-a-vis corruption when adopting certain laws and regulations. As a consequence, Kosovo is characterized by a trend whereby many laws are drafted, amended, supplemented, and/or revised completely without considering the comprehensive impact of their application and whether they complement the Strategy and Action Plan. When drafting or amending legislation, specific assessments should be conducted to evaluate the impact and possible implications that these laws and regulations might have not only on the political, social, and economic spheres in Kosovo but also on efforts to combat corruption. Comprehensive evaluations of the current situation and risk assessments aiming to anticipate the implications of adopting certain laws or regulations may alter the recent inefficient trend whereby unsuccessful or inconsistent legislation is frequently amended, supplemented and/or revised completely and may lead to fewer laws being adopted/revised through expedited procedures (which minimize transparency, lead to lack of/or superficial discussions and legal analysis, and discrepancies/inconsistencies within the law).

Incorporation of a sanction mechanism for poor performance

One of the key drawbacks of the current Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan is the absence of a sanction mechanism that could be used to penalize institutions which fail to implement the measures required by the Strategy and Action Plan. Without a mechanism which could hold relevant institutions accountable, the latter tend to neglect their responsibilities and delay implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan. Given that only a small portion of the measures were implemented by relevant institutions, it is fundamental to include a proper sanction system in the forthcoming Strategy which could hold institutions accountable, encourage them to fulfill their responsibilities, and demonstrate greater commitment to achieving the overall objectives of the Strategy.

Specification of short-term and long-term measures and related costs

The previous Strategy and Action Plan failed to properly distinguish between short-term and long-term measures and to identify related costs/ensure proper funding for each measure. Therefore, it is of paramount importance for the new Strategy and Action Plan to distinguish between short-term and long-term measures/actions in order to better facilitate and streamline the implementation process. Also, the fact that a large number of measures were not fulfilled might partly be due to lack of or inadequate allocation of financial means. As such, identifying the costs associated with specific actions and measures would enable the Government to allocate available funding accordingly, ensure adequate financial means for implementation, and achieve results in the fight against corruption.

A concluding note

Through monitoring and assessing the implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy and its Action Plan 2013-2017, GLPS identified many shortcomings as well as a low level of implementation. When drafting the Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan 2018-2022, it is of utmost importance to actively include and engage with all stakeholders, to identify concrete benchmarks and quantifiable indicators, to assess the implications of laws and regulations during the drafting and revision processes, to develop a sanction mechanism for non- or low-performing institutions, and to distinguish between long-term and short-term measures and allocate adequate funding accordingly. These lessons learned would strengthen the institutional fight against corruption by enhancing the overall implementation of the coming Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan.

Espresso.Insights

The Forthcoming Anti-Corruption Strategy in Kosovo: How to hold onto lessons learned?

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