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Problem of the "officials’ campaigns" remains unresolved

Transparency Serbia (official chapter of Transparency International) emphasizes that interpretations that adoption of the Conclusion of the Government, prohibited or limited "officials’ campaigns",are wrong. More strict regulations could be introduced only with Law, and the chances to do so, on the basis of specific proposals of the amendments formulated by TS[1], was missed in May this year, when Law on Preventing Corruption was adopted (that replacedcurrent Law on Anticorruption Agency). 

Conclusion of the Government can be of use just for reminding of "forgetful" public officials to prohibitions and obligations already existent in other laws. On the other hand, main unresolved problem of the "officials’ campaign",according to findings of Transparency from monitoring of recent elections, is reflected in the activities of public officials which provide additional media promotion, outside of media space dedicated to presentation of the participants of the elections, although there is no real need for it nor it is related to fulfilling of legal obligations of the officials (e. g. visits and openings of schools, hospitals, households, construction sites etc).

According to press release of the Government (Conclusion is still unavailable on its web-site), Government reminded public officials of the executive authority, directors of public institutions and enterprises, as well as officials of province and local authority, not to use public gatherings and meetings,in the role of officials, for promotion of political parties or for invitations not to vote for political opponents. It also reminds to the prohibition of the use of public resources for promotion of political party by public official, and defines that it especially refers to "use of official premises, vehicles and inventory of the state organs, provincial and local institutions, public enterprises, except in the case of protection of personal safety, if such use of certain public resources is defined with accompanying regulations or decision of authorized services".

Related to this, Transparency Serbia reminds that the Anticorruption Agency, couple of years ago, provided opinion, in which wrongly interpreted[2]that all ministers have the right to use official vehicles for the activities of political parties, even if they are not persons who enjoy continual protection (such right is awarded to e. g. Minister of Interior), therefore hope remains that Conclusion will influence at least to interrupting of this form of abuse.  

TS reminds that besides various forms of abuse of public resources that are mentioned in the Conclusion of the Government, in practice there are other –for example, publishing of announcements of political party events and statements of the officials on authority organs’ web-sites and social media pages.

Government recommended to the officials not to perform activities related to promotion of political parties and election campaign " during working hours of the authority they are engaged in". This call can be of use, because matter of period in which the campaign should be implemented is currently unregulated. However, to enable violation of this regulation, it is necessary to define such prohibition with law.

Certain significance is also attributed to reminding of the directors of public enterprises and public services to "disrespect of the regulation from the article 29 of the Law on Anticorruption Agency that represents unconscientious performing of duty that results in significant deviation from basic goal of public enterprise, or public service." In order for this call to reach its full meaning, Government should, as founder of public enterprises and institutions, dismiss the directors of enterprises and institutions that violate these rules, regardless if the Agency considers the case and recommendsdismissal. Having in mind that the Law on Anticorruption Agency is effective for as much as nine years, directors that disrespected this obligation in previous election cycles, should be dismissed.

 

[1]http://www.transparentnost.org.rs/images/stories/inicijativeianalize/Komentari i sugestije na Nacrt zakona o sprecabanju korupcije iz februara 2019.pdf

[2]http://www.transparentnost.org.rs/index.php/sr/aktivnosti-2/pod-lupom/9673-sluzbena-vozila-za-partijske-potreebe

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