A team of ICLAD Certified Trainers led an in-country learning program, sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), for personnel from government ministries, including the Ministry of Justice, the President’s Office, and the National Assembly.
The OSCE, together with the Kyrgyz anti-corruption commission, arranged for the program to focus on drafting legislation defensively against corruption. Assessing the likely effectiveness of specific legislation in reducing corruption in government decision making provided an opportunity for the twenty-six participants to learn legislative drafting theory, methodology and techniques.
As part of the program, experts from Macedonia and Lithuania discussed their countries’ efforts to reduce corrupt behaviors. Their experiences confirmed the analysis of the Kyrgyz participants, and underscored the importance of increasing civil society’s awareness and involvement in combating corruption at all levels of government. The participants’ questions indicated their intense interest in these two countries’ experiences. They suggested the potential value of establishing linkages and exchanging research findings among those in these and other countries in the region and throughout the world who confront similar problems of government corruption.
The participants chose three main problem areas: government procurement of goods and services; tax collection; and criminal justice. They outlined the relevant research reports and discussed the importance of drafting legislative provisions to ensure transparency, accountability and participation.
The participants formed three teams, each focused on one of the three priority areas. On the basis of their reading of Legislative Drafting for Democratic Social Change: A Manual for Drafters (Kluwer, 2000) and the training they received, the teams analyzed the nature and causes of corrupt practices as a basis for drafting legislative measures to curb them.
The team seeking to assess the likely effectiveness of the overall draft anti-corruption law decided to focus their attention on the corrupt behavior of tax inspectors who accepted bribes to reduce the stated value of a business entrepreneur’s property. The team members found the existing anti-corruption law’s wording vague, providing little guidance for identifying this form of corrupt behavior. At the same time, ambiguous wording and frequent changes in the tax law gave tax inspectors discretion to determine whether an entrepreneur’s behaviors violated the law. That provided those inspectors, seeking to supplement their low official salaries, with the opportunity and capacity to interpret the tax rules arbitrarily. The process of determining whether an entrepreneur had violated the tax law—beginning with the requirement that the tax inspector check on the payments made, and ending with that inspector’s submission of a report to the authorities for verification—appeared non-transparent, with little real supervision or accountability. The team members concluded that, in light of these circumstances, to avoid more serious troubles, an entrepreneur had little choice but to pay the bribe demanded. They identified a number of legislative solutions.
Narrowing down their analyses to this level of detail enabled the team members to design detailed legislative prescriptions to alter or eliminate the causes of specific kinds of corrupt behaviors. This suggests that to reduce corruption requires defensive drafting relating to every aspect of government activity – whether one drafts statutes or administrative regulations. At every point, a drafter must specify detailed rules to ensure that officials make decisions by procedures that ensure transparency and accountability. Wherever possible, decision making should require the participation of those likely to be affected–especially the poor and vulnerable.
To conclude the project, the OSCE representative and relevant officials, including members of Parliament and the University who had participated in the e-Learning course, Legislative Drafting for Democratic Social Change, considered how to institutionalize an ongoing project to strengthen drafting capacity and law-making institutions.
Access to Credit for Micro-Enterprises
Law on Prevention of Corruption