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TI Georgia Assesses Corruption in 2016-20

Transparency International Georgia, a local watchdog, said in its report assessing Georgia’s anti-corruption policies in 2016-20, that corruption-related “challenges will be impossible to tackle without a large-scale reform of the country’s anti-corruption system,” that should lead to the creation of an independent anti-corruption agency with broad authority.

According to report released on October 20, the following key trends were observed during the reporting period:

  • Public opinion surveys show that petty corruption continues to stay at low levels, however, other forms of corruption may be widespread in the country;
  • Problems regarding the concentration of power, informal influence over public institutions, and state capture have become prominent over the last years, making it difficult to conduct a proper investigation of corruption cases and implementation of anti-corruption policies;
  • Numerous corruption cases related to government/ruling party-affiliated persons were left uninvestigated;
  • Suspicious successful performance of companies with links to government officials or ruling party donors raises concerns;
  • Georgia’s stable scores in the Corruption Perception Index during the reporting period point at the stagnation of anti-corruption reforms that have been slowing down over the past 4 years. The enforcement of anti-corruption norms remains a problem;
  • There are also significant shortfalls in meeting international anti-corruption obligations taken by Georgia.

According to the CSO, other problems on the anti-corruption agenda during 2016-2020 include the 2019 legislative amendment on toleration of certain violations in filling asset declarations by the public servants, which makes it difficult for watchdogs to monitor business links of officials.

Despite some improvements, weak parliamentary control over the executive also remained a concern due to a lack of independence on the MPs’ part as well as lack of responsibility on the officials’ part, the watchdog stated.

The enforcement of anti-corruption laws has been problematic as well, said TI Georgia. The protection of whistleblowers has been a particular concern due to a lack of legal and institutional mechanisms, the CSO noted, adding that the risks associated with former officials who switched to the private sector are practically left unmanaged.

Regarding the international obligations taken by the country, TI Georgia stated that some of the objectives stipulated in the agenda of the Association Agreement (AA) with the EU remain unachieved, particularly with regard to high-level corruption, while AA obligations on money-laundering have only been met partially.

Georgia has also failed to show any progress in the majority of recommendations by the Anti-Corruption Network of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), based on the 2019 report by the OECD, the watchdog noted. In addition, TI Georgia said, some of the 16 recommendations for Georgia by the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) within the Council of Europe were left unaddressed, others were partially fulfilled, and only 5 of them were met satisfyingly.

According to the watchdog, corruption risks in public procurements continued to be a problem: the fact that the biggest share of the party donations is received by the ruling party raises suspicions, while the donors of the Georgian Dream party receive huge sums of money through public procurements. Like in previous reporting periods, investigation of possible corruption cases with the alleged involvement of high-ranking officials or party-affiliated influential persons remained a concern.

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