BiH municipalities must adopt plans for the fight against corruption

Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina (TI BiH) held the presentation of the study entitled Local integrity system assessment (LIS assessment) which has been conducted in 10 local government units in BiH – in municipalities of Gracanica, Gorazde, Novi Grad Sarajevo, Stari Grad Sarajevo, Teslic, Travnik, Visoko, the City of Bijeljina, the city of Mostar and the Brcko District. LIS assessment implies the analysis of legal framework and practice regarding the anti-corruption mechanisms at the local level, i.e. a thorough evaluation of the integrity and accountability system.

General results of the study show that the units of local government in BiH, in most cases, do not have developed instruments and capacities for the fight against corruption, nor the appropriate support by the higher levels of BiH government. Local governments also lack the adequate support by the higher levels of government in order to improve their integrity systems and the work of municipalities. The existing system of internal and external audit is not in accordance with the real needs of the local government units, while the accountability of local representative bodies, as well as political parties at the local level is very low. Political parties do not represent the interests of the citizens at the local level, nor they are transparent enough, and it is precisely local parties that make one of the weakest segments of the integrity system in all units of local government which were included in the study.

Chloé Berger, Head of Operations Section of Justice and Home Affairs and Public Administration Reform at the EU Delegation to BiH, said: “Corruption is perceived as a continuously growing phenomenon in all sectors of public life. Citizens are most exposed to it in the health and education sector and at the level of local governance. This is where most of the citizens are confronted to corruption and where they feel that it has the biggest impact on their lives. The EU stands ready to support all serious efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina to prevent and fight corruption. We have made the fight against corruption a central element of our assistance to the law enforcement sector, we are working via grants to civil society to empower NGOs to tackle the issue, we are working to improve accountability within the judiciary, and we are addressing the need for fighting corruption in our policy dialogue.”

The findings which are general for all assessed municipalities show that it is necessary for all units of local government in BiH to adopt their own plans for the fight against corruption, in order to make their integrity system stronger. Municipalities must improve their mechanisms of internal and external audit in order to improve the financial accountability. Transparency must also be improved, that is, the budget documents and information on the use of public funds must be adjusted to citizens, and the proactive transparency in decision-making of local government must be improved in order to increase the participation of citizens in decision-making processes. For this purpose it is necessary to improve the cooperation with the civil society organizations, especially in the field of fight against corruption, and to modernize communication with the public.

The purpose of the Local Integrity System Assessment is to provide an objective assessment of the integrity system at the local level and to address those segments that were rated poorly in the assessment in order to improve anti-corruption mechanisms. Methodology for the assessment of the local integrity system was developed by Transparency International, and it was tested in Europe, South America, Middle East and Africa.

TI BiH conducted this assessment as a part of the project financed by the EU entitled „Strengthening the integrity and good governance for better implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy in Bosnia and Herzegovina from local to national level“, financed by EU. This is the largest LIS assessment which has ever been conducted in the whole world, since this is the first time that 10 units of local government in one country have been assessed. In each municipality there will be a presentation of the study results related to that municipality only.