At the close of the year in which Croatia showed an insufficient shift towards the fight against corruption, Transparency International Croatia (TIC) demands much greater effort in this regard in 2014 from the relevant institiutions.
According to the 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) the average score for the European Union is 62.6 whilst Croatia scored below average with 48 points.
Croatia would like to see our society corruption free and a clear indiciation that our country is going in the right direction and at the right speed would be if next year Croatia reaches the average score of the European Union in its fight against corruption.
Transparency International Croatia is not only concerned about the expert opinions which create the Corruptions Perceptions Index but also the feeling of its citizens whose views on corruption are reflected in the Global Corruption Barometer. According to this study, Croatian citizens currently consider political parties, the judiciary and public servants to be the most corrupt. On a scale of 1 (not corrupt) to 5 (totally corrupt), political parties and the judicial system received a rating of 4, followed by public servants with a 3.9 rating and representative bodies and the health sector with a 3.8 rating.
TIC does not expect such a change to happen overnight but we are not satisfied with the force or dynamics of current changes. The final warning was sounded with information on the lack of effort on the part of the National Council for Monitoring the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy and the recently published Report of the State Audit Office in relation to the financial audit of political parties, independent representatives and independent representative bodies of local and territorial (regional) self-government for the 2012. This financial audit identified irregularities in a number of parties – BDSH-a, DC-a, HDZ-a, HSS-a, HSU-a, AM-a, ARS-a, BUZ-a, DSU-a, HČSP-a, HSLS-a, Hrasta i PGS-a.
To date, not a single finding of the State Audit Office has resulted in key personnel reforms, a shift and expression of political responsibility or even instituting criminal proceedings against numerous public authorities for the mismanagment of public funds where the State Audit Office identified financial irregularities. Instead, the State Attorney's Office has only been dealing with individual cases. This suggests that the system of fiscal responsibility does not work in practice and that there is still a long way to go before there is complete transparency of the work of all of public bodies in Croatia. The fact is that there is still a lack of political will on the part of all of the political options in relation to the full implementation of laws that strengthen the fiscal and financial transparency of the public sector. This is evident by the continual unresponsiveness to the findings of the State Audit Office which should be the main criterion of the legality of the work of the public sector which is rooted in the core values of the western developed democracies where there exists a system of accountability for public funds and tax payers’ money. Moreover, The Office for the Commissioner for Information is not being provided with the necessary financial means to enable it to run the Office in order to achieve greater transparency of the work of the public sector.
We fought hard to get the Law on Fiscal Responsibility but the heads of public authorities still continue to avoid responsibility for the unlawful expenditure of public funds.
Finally, the Law on Access to Information is today, unfortunately, perceived by the public as an act that is actually intended for the media to be able to penetrate the confidential workings of the public sector and not as a powerful tool which all citizens and taxpayers in the Republic of Croatia can use to inform themselves of the practices and work of the public sector in accordance with the published catalogue of informaiotn and secrecy classificaiton.
All this suggests that instead of opening up to taxpayers, Croatia is systematically distancing itself from the obligations which it undertook with its accession to the Eu which include complete transperancy of the public sector.
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