TI-Romania: Atmosphere of public integrity has dramatically deteriorated for a year

The atmosphere of public integrity in Romania has dramatically deteriorated and the use of public funds has seen the most important regression in the past few years, reads the National Report on Corruption 2009, which was made public by Transparency International (TI) Romania on Wednesday.

The report indicates that the second half of 2008 led to a stagnation of any progress in the field of justice and corruption combating and 2009 was marked by policies and decisions ruining the structure of the national integrity system and contributing to the unprecedented increase in the vulnerability of the public sector to corruption.

Executive manager of TI-Romania Victor Alistar explained that the system of public acquisitions had changed five times for a year, resulting in lowering the safety standards in the use of public funds.

He said that, over June 2008-September 2009, they annulled the operational independence of the Department for Anti-Fraud Struggle and gave a political character to the staff of this institution, which is the key instrument in protecting the use of European funds.
Alistar also said that serious regression was made in the public administration as public positions were given a political character.

Another fault in the field of the public administration is the fact that, by means of the unitary pay law, they removed the general incompatibilities for public servants, allowing them to have other contract relations besides the ones connected to their job.

In Alistar’s opinion this provision of the unitary pay law endangers the integrity of the entire structure of the local and central public administration. The report considers that the change of the Civil and Penal Codes was made in a non- transparent way, the civil society was ignored and Parliament was disregarded, having only a consultative role.

„The regulations of the new Penal Code were appreciated as being instruments by which they actually come to a masked amnesty for the acts that were already committed. The penal sanction policy was diminished a lot and crime is on the increase,” reads the TI-Romania report.

On the other hand, the TI-Romania report maintains that the developments of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) and of the Anti-Corruption Directorate General were positive.

Thus, DNA managed to diminish the excessive political character the media gave to the investigations under way, continued to investigate the high level corruption, but did not manage to get the court to have its final say on the files in question.
Victor Alistar said that, considering the results obtained by the National Agency for Integrity, one can worry about the fact that more than 80 percent of the punishments appealed against in court were declared null by law courts.

Alistar also said that another reason for worry was the Government using more and more frequently the procedure of the emergency ordinances and the out-of-the-ordinary procedure of assuming responsibility, this way of making things legal reducing the possibility to use the mechanisms of transparent decision making.

Being under the pressure of the economic crisis, the Government also reduced the transparency standards referring to the use of public funds. An example is the total lack of transparency in making the 20 billion euro foreign loan from the International Monetary Fund, the WB and the EU.

The National Report on Corruption was drawn up over June 2008-September 2009 and has 100 pages. It is a critical presentation of the most important legislative, institutional and public policy developments with an impact on corruption in most fields.
The study has four major components: legislative, institutional developments, public policies, vulnerable fields and public statements that are characteristic of the vulnerability of the national integrity system.

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