The municipalities in the country, in general, have not developed special anti-corruption practices and instruments. The awareness about corruption and, in particular, conflicts of interest remains at an extremely low level. The efforts aimed to prevent corruption and conflicts of interest remain primarily at the declarative level. There are municipalities that are not aware that they have adopted anti-corruption documents, as well as municipalities that have established and practice some anti-corruption rules, but don’t recognize them as such. In addition to the preparation, adoption, introduction and implementation of concrete anti-corruption policies and instruments, it seems that we need mass education at the local level on ethical standards, recognition, control and management of conflicts of interests and prevention of corruption.
As many as 70% of municipalities do not have any anti-corruption documents. In most of the municipalities that have adopted some anti-corruption policy, these documents are older – 6 to 12 years old and have not been revised. Several municipalities have published anti-corruption documents on their websites, but have responded that they do not. Corruption has not been reported in any of the municipalities that have submitted a response in the last two years.
Only four municipalities responded that they had some specific mechanism for reporting corruption. Only four municipalities responded that in the last two years there have been cases of reporting a conflict of interest. Only 5% of the municipalities have an act for receipt of applications from whistleblowers, and only 7% have appointed a person for receiving applications from whistleblowers.
Only one municipality stated that in the last two years it has conducted integrity trainings or to prevent corruption for officials or the administration. Several municipalities have adopted risk management strategies that contain certain anti-corruption elements and mechanisms, but according to the answers, they are not recognized as such. Only a few municipalities place anti-corruption and integrity as key commitments and goals in their highest strategic documents (for example, Strumica, Veles, Gazi Baba).
In 2019, the SCPC often considered cases of preventing corruption and conflicts of interest at the local level. Out of a total of 24 sessions, the SCPC reviewed applications, complaints or initiatives related to mayors, members of municipal councils or employees of municipalities in as many as 22 sessions. The SCPC opened a total of 65 cases, and rejected half of them due to unfounded or lack of data. As many as one third of the most serious violations for which the SCPC has initiated initiatives to initiate criminal proceedings or to establish responsibility in the area of prevention of corruption, apply at the local level.
These are some of the key findings of the research / mapping of anti-corruption policies, mechanisms and practices in the municipalities of the Republic of Northern Macedonia, implemented within the project “Reflector on Anti-Corruption Practices at Local Level”, financially supported by USAID. This research covered all municipalities, as well as the City of Skopje. Requests for access to public information were submitted to all municipalities and the City of Skopje. A total of 68 or 84% of the total number of municipalities in the country submitted answers and documents.
The full text of the Research “Anti-corruption policies and practices of municipalities” can be found at the following link.