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RTI Act a powerful weapon: Minister

Posted by egovernance on November 19, 2006

RTI Act a powerful weapon: Minister

Staff Reporter

 http://www.hindu.com/2006/11/19/stories/2006111902960500.htm

 


  • Seminars on RTI Act held in 20 districts
  • Information on the Act yet to reach grass root level

     

    NIZAMABAD: Minister for Rural Development D. Srinivas has said that the Right to Information Act (RIA) is a powerful weapon in the hands of both people and media.

    “This Act is very useful to make the administration accountable and to ensure transparency in the administration. You can avail yourself of the Act to get the necessary information from the authorities,” he said while addressing a seminar on Right to Information Act here on Saturday.

    The seminar was jointly conducted by the Andhra Pradesh Press Academy and the Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists for the benefit of Urdu journalists of Adilabad and Nizamabad districts.

    Among those who spoke at the seminar were Andhra Pradesh Press Academy Chairman D. Amar, Andhra Pradesh Urdu Academy Chairman Raheemuddin Ansari, Deputy IG Anjanikumar, Collector I.S. Sri Naresh, Mayor D. Sanjay, Commissioner of the Right to Information R. Dileep Reddy and District Congress Committee president G. Gangadhar.

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    COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ANTI-CORRUPTION SYSTEMS, EFFORTS AND STRATEGIES IN ASIAN COUNTRIES: WITH FOCUS ON HONG KONG, SINGAPORE, MALAYSIA, AND KOREA

    Posted by egovernance on November 18, 2006

    COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ANTI-CORRUPTION SYSTEMS, EFFORTS AND STRATEGIES IN ASIAN COUNTRIES: WITH FOCUS ON HONG KONG, SINGAPORE, MALAYSIA, AND KOREA

     

    Taek Kim

    The Academy of Korean studies, South Korea

     

    This study is designed to cast light on the issue of corruption from diverse viewpoints, which is so deeply rooted in every walk of life these days. Anti-corruption approaches on the part of the government are not expected to be so successful because the problem is too complicated. That is why appropriate comprehension of the issue is required first. Nowadays, for example, the corruption in Korea is so-called Systemic Corruption, as the author Caiden pointed out, against which a strong combination of legal and executive systems should be prepared. This study explores the anti-corruption and corruption-preventive systems in Asia, especially in Hong Kong and Singapore. In their analysis, research data and legislative contents in particular are thoroughly dealt with. This was possible because of the visits and interviews with personnel in those countries. Main focus in this study is put on the objectives as follows: First, to introduce the cases of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, which are noted for the success in anti-corruption and transparency, Second, to define each of the functions and problems of those countries anti-corruption systems, which are the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) in Malaysia, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in Hong Kong, and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in Singapore, Lastly, to examine the current anti-corruption systems and their problems in Korea and the possible answers with focus on the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea and the Criminal Prosecution System in Korea.

     

    INTRODUCTION

    Let us suggest, with a degree of benevolence, that the current administration has committed itself to serve its people faithfully in the name of the government of people. The commitment was considered as its pride and joy since it achieved the first overturn of political power against the past regimes, which were lacking in legitimacy. So it was now their will to reform the old misdeeds. Thus we see a democratic country normally has obligations to pursue justice and to devote itself to the public interest. These obligations consist of laws and systems, and institutions, which are implemented and controlled by the administrative parts of the government. However it follows that if the government is blind to the duties of the officials and the corruption of a few of its elite, then mistrust and confusion in its society will never disappear.

    Presently we are witnessing an enormous collision of the corrupt and the anticorrupt thrashing about like surging waves. A recent scandal involving a president of a venture firm who was hit by bribery (to the value of about $800,000) by a garbageman of the Blue House (Korean President’s House, so-called Chong-Wa-Dae) reveals how deeply our society is corrupt (kim,1999). In fact, the issue of corruption in Korea is not a new thing. Since the first democratic government of Lee Seung Man (the first Korean president,1948~1960), all the following Korean administrations have tried to fight against corruption, but they failed. Although the first republic in Korea, for example, received enough Official Development Assistance (ODA) from overseas sources which gave them a chance to combat corruption, that republic collapsed due to various political corruption scandals – such as the rigged election of March 15th ,1960.

    The third and fourth republics, which were established by the military coup d’etat of May 16th 1961,1972 were a little bit more successful in combating corruption through more innovative measures. Economic development under the dictatorship of the president Park Jung Hee, however, brought about corruption once more notwithstanding their avowed good aims. Ironically the corruption served as a catalyst for economic growth!

    The fifth and sixth republics (through1981~1992) did not overcome the spate of corruption, and unfortunately the two ex-presidents, Chon Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo, were put into a judicial settlement. Inevitably the people’s mistrust towards the government was growing, since for decades the people had been suffering from the corruption. In addition, there had not been enough research or study upon any policy for anti-corruption, even though many people recognized how important it was to carry out systematic improvements to prevent corruption.  Soon after President Kim Dae Jung’s inauguration in 1998, we – the people and the government – introduced and implemented various initiatives to combat corruption, resulting in success to some extent. Still, the corruption of political power was not completely abolished.

    There is a characteristic of corruption in Korea that is a kind of time-honored tradition without which a social success would be almost impossible. What is called ‘a culture of corruption’ dominates the everyday lives and the minds of the public. That is why, in order to combat corruption, we need to reform consciousness as well as innovate change in the conduct of administrations. Successful models of anti-corruption elsewhere should be considered.  Corruption in Korea even acted as a spring-board for the careers of public servants, and as a lubricant for economic development. For too long the officials have remained complacent in the culture of corruption under regimes lacking in legitimacy. Unless we eradicate corruption from our society, even the basic frameworks of our nation may be threatened: and by not acting we will not strengthen our competitiveness. Thus, ‘corruption’ has to be explored for many reasons, and we must analyze how  to create effective anti-corruption measures.

    This chapter is trying to cast light on corruption from many different viewpoints. Focusing on four countries in Asia – Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Korea – it considers the anti-corruption infrastructures and their corruption prevention systems of the first three countries in order to comment on the situation in Korea. To gather primary evidence, the author visited the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in Hong Kong, and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in Singapore – their legislative instruments and their research data were the main focus.

     

    The key points that will be emphasized are:

    ·         First, we introduce cases in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia that were success  stories in combating corruption,

    ·         Second, we offer an analysis of the roles of

    Ø       the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) in Malaysia,

    Ø       the ICAC in Hong Kong, and

    Ø       the CPIB in Singapore.

    ·         Lastly, we review the current administrative situation with respect to Korean corruption, and we suggest possible countermeasures – focusing on the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea.

     

    COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF ANTI-CORRUPTION SYSTEMS

    The anti-corruption measures in Asia are noted for their strict, even harsh, punishment levels, and their strong legal enforcement acting against corruption. Most Asian countries already have appropriate laws and they apply them. For instance, Korea has the Law on the Public Servants, the Public Servants in Provinces, and the Public Servants’ Ethics, but they are not effectively enforced. In this chapter we will examine why this is generally so.

     

    1.Anti-corruption Systems

     

    1). Hong Kong

     

    (1) Background

     

    Before the mid 1970’s Hong Kong was totally spotted by corruption. At that time people in Hong Kong used phrases that reflected social corruption.  “To get on the bus” meant to actively get involved in corruption; “to run with the bus” was just to remain indifferent to corruption; also “to stand in front of the bus” meant to make known or resist corruption. The first two were practical choices for people, but the last was considered impractical (Manion, 1996).

    In 1948, Hong Kong set the Law on the Prevention of Corruption Ordinance, which strictly punished congressmen, businessmen, and the government officials who committed corruption. Imprisonment up to five years and a fine up to $10,000 was possible. There was a special body called Anti-Corruption Branch established under the Police Department, but it was too inefficient. So the legislature formed the Standing Committee on Corruption in 1957 and it included the executive and the legislative personnel by 1960. In 1971, the Law on the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance was set up, which indicated that if a public servant possesses or maintains inappropriate wealth, he or she might be accused of the crime of corruption. If he or she hides his or her belongings, it is a crime too. A delegation from the United Kingdom, headed by Mary Maclehose, came to Hong Kong in order to advise on the eradication of corruption.  It supported the creation of the Basic Law on Independent Commission against Corruption Ordinance in February of 1974, which instantiated the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC). At first it was criticized because it was not in harmony with Chinese customs and tradition. Today, Hong Kong is known worldwide for having a clean civil service and providing a level playing field in business (although there are underground hints, now it has reverted to the force of Beijing, that it will soon approach the levels of corruption seen in mainland China. The slogan “One China – two laws” can not be maintained for long as the border between Hong Kong and the mainland become more free and the neighbors [with their different ethics] more freely mingle).

    Hong Kong‘s success in substantially reducing corruption has been hard earned by a close partnership between the community and the ICAC. ICAC has the powers of investigation, arrest, and detention and of granting bail, which are fundamental to any law enforcement agency. It contributed to maintaining Hong Kong as a fair, just, stable and prosperous community.  It also educated the public against the evils of corruption by the use of television and radio commercials, as well as by printing advertisements to publicize the work of the ICAC.

     

    (2) Organization and Activities

     

    The Commission has three Departments (i) of Operations, (ii) Corruption Prevention and (iii) Community Relations. The ICAC was given specific legal powers to bring the corrupt to book under the law of Independent Commission against Corruption Ordinance.

    ·         First, the ICAC has the powers of arrest, detention and of granting bail for misuse of office, as well as crimes facilitated by or connected with suspected corruption offences.

    ·         Second, the Commissioner or the Vice-Commissioner has the power of issuing a warrant for the arrest perpetrators of corruption-related crimes regardless of public or private.

    ·         Third, the Commissioner or the Vice-Commissioner has the powers of investigation to unravel and identify the transactions and assets concealed in different guises by the corrupt.

    These powers include:

    Searching bank accounts;

    Holding and examining business and private documents;

    Requiring the suspects to provide details of their assets, income and expenditure.

    ·         Fourth, the Commissioner or the Vice-Commissioner makes every ICAC officer vow not to receive bribery from anyone.

     

    The Operations Department receives, considers and investigates alleged corruption offences, while the Community Relations Department educates the public against the evils of corruption and enlists public support in combating corruption. The Corruption Prevention Department examines practices and procedures of government departments and public bodies to reduce corruption opportunities and offers corruption prevention advice to private organizations upon request. Its Commissioner is directly answerable to the Chief Executive, so the independence of the Commission is assured. The chief of each department can limit the power of his subordinate if that person’s behavior is suspected, such as prohibiting the disposing of his belongings or to request their financial disclosure statements. Also ICAC officers can arrest and detain each other without a warrant. They are not affected by personnel administration, and usually get higher salaries than other governmental officials – which helps combat any inclination to accept monetary ‘gifts’.

     

    (3) Ethics Code of Public Servants

     

    According to the Law on Bribery Prohibition, and the Chief Executive’s Command on Receiving an Entertainment, the public servants of Hong Kong must follow ethics code as follows (Chun Soo Il, 1999):

    1.       in Hong Kong the public servants may not receive cash, securities, gifts and entertainment without permission from the Chief Executive. If the gifts are no more than ordinary for other people and are not directly related with the job, they are acceptable.

    2.       a public servant’s loan from a friend cannot be more than HK$2,000 and it must be paid back before 14 days.

    3.       in case a public servant receives a gift not in accordance with the code of conduct, he or she must obtain a prior approval from his or her chief. If the public servant fails to obtain a prior approval, he or she must obtain an ex post facto approval.

    4.       a chief should order his or her subordinate officials to return honorarium which is not approved. If it is impossible to return it, the chief should dispose of it.

    5.       any public servant who is in violation of the Chief Executive’s Codes on Ethics faces a fine of HK$100,000 or 1 year’s  imprisonment.

     

    2). Singapore

     

    Asian countries with their background based on a Confucian culture, with few exceptions, are challenged by the problem of active corruption in their higher echelons, although the population generally may enjoy reasonable economic development. Singapore is the exception.  It has kept its government free from corruption since its independence in 1965, and it has maintained an annual growth rate of about 9%, with a national income per capita of around US$32,000.

    As far as their politics is concerned, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) of the incumbent Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew has held political power for 40 years. Unlike the saying ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’, the PAP is cited as a reasonable example of transparent politics. There is not even a hint of the term ‘political fund’. By minimizing the election campaign fund, the headquarters of PAP is funded only by its members’ dues, and each district party chapter is funded by subsidiary businesses such as kindergartens, and bazaars.

    For higher officials a strict code of ethics is applied. Tan Kia Khan, who was the ex-prime minister Lee’s right-hand man, was punished for a scandal relating to accepting commissions from the Boeing Company in 1965: he was a minister of National Development at that time. And in 1976, Wi Tun Buhn, a secretary of state and alumni of Mr. Lee, was sent to the prison for corruption.

    Singapore demands that administrative officials strengthen self-control or self-inspection for the purpose of eradicating the causes of corruption. By providing high salaries, rewards and excellent working conditions for the public officials, Singapore makes them more devoted to their work and thus helps prevent possible corruption (Quah, 1995, 1999).

    The anti-corruption efforts by the top leadership such as Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew plays a very important role. Mr. Lee publicly announced that he has no individual possessions, and the opposition parties were never able to blame him for such matters. Nor could the western press ever criticize his integrity, although it mentioned his dictatorship – since they are fundamentally inclined against dictatorships.

    The Prevention of Corruption Act, formulated in 1937, was revised in 1960 to have more binding powers. The main point was to grant a stronger power to the director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). The director is appointed by the Prime Minister, and can arrest corruption-related suspects without a warrant. Criminals accused of corruption may face imprisonment up to 7 years, with fines.

     

    (1) Background

     

    Established in 1952, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) is an independent body that investigates and aims to prevent corruption in the public and private sectors in Singapore. From the 1940’s to the 1950’s corruption and violation were widespread in Singapore. In those days all the crimes relating to corruption were handled by the Anti-Corruption Branch – known simply as the Singaporean police. The Branch, however, did not achieve satisfactory results, in part, because the policemen themselves were stained with corruption. That is why there emerged a strong need for an organization to investigate corruption that was itself independent from the police. In the early days, the CPIB had some difficulty in collecting proof of individual corruption because the relevant laws were not efficient. Another problem was a lack of cooperation by the public sector. Most of the public officials were doubtful, and even scared, of the CPIB’s activities. After 1959, when the People’s Action Party took power, this situation began to change. The punishment against the corrupt officials became harsher and they purged corruption from public life. The CPIB restored the confidence of the public with respect to officials as the government was seen to have implemented the anti-corruption policies faithfully.

     

    (2) Legislation

     

    In 1960, the government of Singapore established more still effective law against corruption – the Prevention of Corruption Act. The CPIB derived its powers of investigation from the Chapter 241 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. And a new law, Corruption (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, was passed in 1989. This law empowers the court to confiscate and freeze all the properties gained through corruption.

     

    (3) Organization and Activities

     

    Elimination of corruption in Singapore was possible because of the severe institutional mechanism. The Prevention of Corruption Act established in 1960 strongly precludes corruption of politicians and public officials. Further, the CPIB is headed by a director who is directly responsible to the Prime Minister. The bureau consists of 49 officials, among whom there is one director, two deputy directors, five assistant directors and 41 special investigators. There are two divisions in the bureau, one is the operation division and the other is a specialist support division. Each of division is responsible to a deputy director.

    The main activities of the CPIB are as follows:

    1.       the bureau is responsible for safeguarding the integrity of the public service and encouraging corruption-free transactions in the private sector.

    2.       it is also charged with the responsibility of checking on malpractice by public officers and reporting such cases to the appropriate government departments and public bodies for disciplinary action.

    3.       besides bringing corruption offenders to book, the bureau carries out corruption prevention by reviewing the work methods and procedures of corruption-prone departments and public bodies to identify administrative weaknesses in the existing systems which could facilitate corruption and malpractice.  It recommends remedial and prevention measures to the heads of the departments concerned.

     

    Although the primary function of the bureau is to investigate corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act, it is empowered to investigate any other seizable offence under any written law that is disclosed in the course of a corruption investigation. With enough suspicion the bureau can arrest the suspect without a warrant (Kim Byung Chul, 1996).

     

    3). Malaysia

     

    (1) Anti-Corruption Law

     

    This law, established in 1997, contains much against corruption. Especially the system of a director-general is notable. This person, the director-general, is held responsibility for the following under this law –

    1.       he receives reports and must follow-up enquires upon them.

    2.       he must investigate any suspicious acts.

    3.       he helps disclose any crimes he enquires about – discussing the practices, systems, and procedures in the public sector and undertakes to correct them.

    4.       to prevent any more corruption, he guides and instructs the corruption-related criminals.

    5.       he gives advice to the chiefs in the public sector to assist them in changing their practices and systems to minimize the possibilities of corruption.

    6.       he educates the public in detail about anti-corruption.

    7.       Lastly, he enlightens people upon the reasons they should combat corruption.

     

    (2) Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA)

     

    * Activities

     

    In parallel with the national vision, in 1996 the ACA formulated its own vision, mission and strategies. They are meant to put into focus the need for a concerted effort in the fight against corruption, while at the same time to devise and to fine-tune other workable solutions. Based on the information they collect, the ACA prosecutes anyone with any provable case of corruption or any offence under the corruption laws or generally prescribed laws.

    While the ACA procures, collates and vets all information received for the efficient detection and identification of all forms of corrupt activities and abuse of power, it inquires and investigates cases of corruption, malpractice and abuse or power efficiently and rapidly. By enforcing the laws and the regulations fairly and firmly, their sovereignty and that of the public and the nation’s interests are consistently upheld. The ACA is also empowered with specific administrative powers enabling it to endorse or submit reports to the heads of departments to initiate disciplinary action against civil servants; or for the identification of weaknesses in the departments’ machinery with suggestions as to their remedies. Ordinarily these reports are forwarded as offshoots of investigations of corruption cases.

    Through the studies and appraisal of the administrative and management systems of specific government agencies or departments, the ACA detects weaknesses that provide potential opportunities for corruption, and so makes appropriate recommendations for their remedy. Vetting exercises are also carried out to ensure that only those not under active investigation by the ACA, or those with criminal records in the ACA, are considered for promotion, appointment to important positions, or have offers of awards or optional retirements. It is encouraging to note that certain financial institutions before finalizing their own recruitment of top managerial positions send the candidates’ names to the ACA for vetting.

    To help build a corruption-free society grounded on universal spiritual and moral values and spearheaded by a clean, efficient and trustworthy government, the ACA works in cooperation with the government and the world-class anti-corruption organizations. It formulates and mounts anti-corruption campaigns through the mass media, forums, seminars, workshops, joint operations, conducting surprise checks, etc. In order to upgrade the ACA into a highly professional and reputable agency, they develop systematic and organized human resources development and proactive leadership programmes. Special attention is focused upon enhancing the leadership and management quality at all levels of ACA officers through the application of these human resource development programmes, the management of information technology and through improved work processes.

     

    (3) Strategy

     

    The government of Malaysia has endorsed the ACA’s three-pronged strategy spelt

    out in its vision, namely:

     

    . Reinforcement/Consolidation Strategy

    Through this strategy, among other things, proposals for the improvement of the ACA’s scheme of service, financial allocation, manpower development and the strengthening of relationship with other agencies are being made.

     

    . Prevention and Promotional Strategy

    Under this strategy, the ACA, with the backing of the Government Special Cabinet Committee acts as an adviser to both government and provincial agencies in their planning and implementation of preventive programmes towards instilling an awareness on the evils of corruption. This is being done through talks and dialogues and the distribution of videotapes containing inspiring religious talks, or corruption dramas on anti-corruption themes. One objective is to motivate or encourage them to combat corruption within their folds. Another is to give appropriate recognition to individuals or agencies that have exhibited exemplary conduct in combating corruption directly or indirectly.

     

    . Enforcement Strategy

    This strategy focuses on law enforcement efforts which includes reviewing the effectiveness and adequacy of the existing laws on corruption, especially the provisions pertaining to investigation, prosecution and sentencing. As a matter of fact, a comprehensive proposal amalgamating the laws on corruption has been drafted, and it is being studied by the Attorney General’s Office.

     

     

    2. Comparative Analysis Of Anti-Corruption Systems

    Administratively the region is in a little flux. Hong Kong, once a British colony for a long time, is now a Special Administrative Region since its return to China 1997.  And Singapore is a city-state, which became independent from the Malaysian Federation in 1965. Currently the People’s Action Party (PAP) of Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong is the ruling party of Singapore, while Hong Kong is now a Special Administrative Region of People’s Republic of China, under the governance of the Chief Executive, Tung Chee Hwa. It follows that the anti-corruption bodies in most of the Asian countries are very diverse.  For instance – a secretariat of the president, a public prosecutor, the police, the Board of Audit and Inspection, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) are all the examples of the relevant anti-corruption authority according to the legal system of the countries in focus in this chapter. In the case of Korea, the Board of Audit and Inspection is a constitutional and independent organization; also, the law on the Board of Audit and Inspection specifies its role of audit and inspection.

    The ICAC of Hong Kong and the CPIB of Singapore both have common functions and powers in keeping with the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea, but in the field of anti-corruption, they have stronger powers than those made available to the Board of Audit in Korea. While this Board in Korea does not have the power of investigation (it only indicts the public prosecutor), the ICAC of Hong Kong and the CPIB of Singapore have not only the power of investigation, but also of arrest without a warrant. In Korea, a warrant must be requested by the prosecutor and issued by the court.

    We might see that Hong Kong and Singapore deals with corruption through mechanisms independent of government but have quite different duration since incorporation. The ICAC of Hong Kong was established in 1974 and the CPIB of Singapore in 1952 (although the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of Singapore was created as a part of Criminal Investigation Department in 1937), while the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) of Korea was established in 1948. Later, in Korea, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (CPC) was set up in April 1993 as an advisory body for the Chairman of the BAI.  More recently under the Kim Dae Jung administration the Presidential Commission on Anti-Corruption was established as an advisory body to the President on September 10th 1999. Independent working against corruption is commonplace in Hong Kong and Singapore, yet despite strong powers and roles, the BAI and the public prosecutor in Korea are very poor in  fulfilling their role. Perhaps one reason is that the staff of the BAI in Korea is only about 800, while ICAC of Hong Kong has more than 1,400 and Korea has a vastly greater geographic spread. While the public prosecutor in Korea is criticized by the people about his independence and neutrality, those discharging equivalent positions in Hong Kong and Singapore enjoy the support of people and they never yield to any pressure. Hong Kong and Singapore have established anti-corruption laws, while in Korea the ultimate law is still pending in their parliament. While the CPIB of Singapore is responsible to the Prime Minister and the ICAC of Hong Kong to the Chief Executive, the BAI of Korea is under the President of the Republic as a Constitutional government agency.

    Most countries attempt to carefully control the corruption of the public officials legislating against bribery, frauds, theft, misappropriation, tax evasion, drug traffic, gambling and malpractice of business. In a sample of Asian countries we may see that anti-corruption laws were established in Singapore in 1960, in Hong Kong in 1948, in Thailand in 1975, in Malaysia in 1961 and in India in 1947. The US and the UK also established relevant laws to cope systematically with corruption.  But it is only recently, in 1999, following the concerted pressure by the OECD that its member countries agreed to act coherently against corruption, and became signatories to its anti-corruption charter.


    ANTI-CORRUPTION SYSTEMS AND STRATEGIES IN KOREA

     

    1. Anti-Corruption Systems

    Kim Dae Jung’s Administration has launched comprehensive anti-corruption programmes in response to the people’s desire for a corruption-free society. The Korean people expected the government to reform the society overall as they have experienced and come to understand the adverse effects of corruption on the economy during the financial crisis and subsequent political turmoil. Although Korea rapidly attained enormous economic development in only a few decades, the long-standing collusion between politics and business proved to be a major cause of the unprecedented economic crisis of 1997. The Korean Government’s new anti-corruption programmes now perfectly tie in with the efforts of the international community to eliminate corruption around the world. In conformity with the anti-bribery treaty that was signed by members of the OECD and went into effect in February 1999, the Korean Government has also tightened its inspection and punishment of those businesses offering bribes to a foreign entity.

     

    The main actions of the incumbent government are –

    1. the Government picked areas where corruption is most rampant – areas which include taxation, construction, the environment, the police and food control – and asked experts in each area to conduct research into ways to prevent corruption.
    2. the Government plans to establish anti-corruption systems by enacting laws and forming preventive organizations so that efforts to excise corruption can continue after the term of the Government of the People expires.
    3. the Government plans to drastically increase the participation of citizens in anti-corruption projects. Each and every citizen should become a watchdog. The Government plans to introduce diverse systems so that officials and private citizens can cooperate with each other.
    4. the citizens and the Government have thus joined forces to launch a nationwide campaign for the common goal of cleaning up Korean society.

     

    We will now overview the main characteristics of Kim Dae Jung Administration’s anti-corruption programs.

     

    a) KICAC and Presidential Commission on Anti-Corruption (PCAC)

     

    The independent Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission was created on September 10th  1999, and it received a great attention from people. The special commission is mandated to –

    1.       help the Government establish anti-corruption policies, deliberate on Government practices, and make recommendations;

    2.       evaluate the progress of the anti-corruption programmes at all levels of public organizations;

    3.       carry out anti-corruption education and publicity;

    4.       support civic organizations’ clean-up activities both domestically and internationally; and

    5.       conduct surveys and collect materials for the formation of an effective anti-corruption movement.

    There are of course differences of opinions about the Commission among the ruling party, the opposition party and the non-governmental organizations (NGO).

     

    b) Protection of Whistleblowers

    An advocatory system for the rights of employees to ‘blow the whistle’ on fraud, corruption, government waste, and violations of environmental laws is used as a corruption-controlling device in most of the developed countries. Kim Dae Jung’s Administration also introduced such a system enforcing civil watchdog procedures leading to punishment if found guilty. In order to encourage the prosecution of people the government specified in the Anti-Corruption Act that any successful prosecution against corruption may be rewarded 5 – 15% of the government income. Procedures for prosecution and the protection of whistleblowers are specified in the Act so that a prosecutor may not be identified, but protected. Punishment is prepared in case the accused perpetrates harm to the prosecutor, or if the prosecution is false.

     

    c) Financial Disclosure of the Public Officials

    When there is a financial change of more than US$10,000 a year in other than the specified salary, a financial disclosure statement for the increase is mandatory. The person should prove the financial increase, and if not, he or she is punished for a dishonest transaction and the non-disclosure of the fact. The power of investigation is strengthened.

     

    d) Punishment of the Corruption-related person

    The punishment has become stricter against accepting a gift of money or any other valuables, and even the pardoning and restoration of rights are limited.

    In case anyone gets dismissed from office for corruption, it is forbidden to restore him within 5 years if the returning office is related to the previous one; or in 15 years if the returning office is the public arena; and in 10 years if he underwent a criminal punishment. A person or a corporate body that offers bribery is punished equally severely as the one who receives bribery – so that the bribery in civil society may be eradicated. For a gift of money or any other valuables the related interest, as well as the gift itself, is to be confiscated regardless of the giver or the receiver.

     

    e) Privileges of the Former Post of Retired Officials

    There are some cases in which retired officials who previously worked in the area related with approvals or permissions get a job in a related field. Herein they are very likely to act as a corrupt liaison between the public and the private. Thus, the government strictly controls and limits the retired public officials who apply for these jobs.

    When judging whether the previous job of a retired official is related with the new one he or she is applying for, his or her previous job must be considered up to 3 years before retirement, and examined again during the 2 years before retirement. As for the companies a retired official may not work for, the government expanded the net of companies by replacing ‘the companies with capital $10,000,000 or more and with turnover of $30,000,000 or more’ with the new definition of ‘the ones with capital of $5,000,000 or more, and with turnover of more than $13,000,000’.

     

    f) Citizen Ombudsman System

    To make the system more easily accessible to citizens and to handle matters objectively from the citizen’s point of view, Kim Dae Jung’s Administration adopted the Citizen Ombudsman System. Focused in the areas that are the most susceptible to corruption – such as the construction sector – citizen ombudsmen are hired to monitor the procedures. If a given number of citizens request inspection (1000 in a central ministry, and 500 in a local province), an appropriate inspection agency must conduct inspection and report the result. By including a number of experts in governmental committees, as recommend by NGOs, it became possible to perceive if there is any corruption in the operation.

     

    2. Evaluation and Problems

    Like many other countries, Korea has tried to eradicate corruption through a series of legislative acts and systems on its own, but failed to root out corruption. Most of the policies resulted in a one-time event and will end at the expiration of the president’s term.

    Soon after President Kim Dae-jung’s inauguration in February 1998, he launched a full-scale effort introducing and implementing various initiatives to uproot corruption, firstly focusing on the public sector. The comprehensive programs included plans for administrative reforms in corruption-prone areas such as housing, construction, the tax administration, police work, environmental management and the food-and-entertainment businesses. In consultation with experts and representatives of the private sector, the government provided for alternative policies. However, the Anti-Corruption Act, the Prohibition of Money Laundry, the Protection of Whistleblowers, and the Special Prosecutor Act are all stillborn due to the acute dispute between the ruling party and the opposition. Even worse, the Political Reform Act, which is aimed at reforming one of the main sources of corruption, has been cast away.

    Meanwhile, some positive outcomes such as the Presidential Commission on Anti-Corruption (PCAC), Citizen Ombudsman System, and the innovation of many administrative regulations set the stage for new anti-corruption policies to be implemented. Unlike in the past administrations Kim Dae Jung’s Administration showed much more strenuous effort to engage in anti-corruption policy making. Nevertheless, the government has its own limits too in that the policies tended to be inclined towards political punishment.

    When the PCAC was established there was a great deal of criticism about how it should be operated. Responsible directly to the president, the Commission plans and implements anti-corruption policies and provides advice to the President on issues relevant to fighting against corruption. As the Anti-Corruption Act was established, PCAC became confused in developing ways to improve existing government programs for preventing corruption. This shows the limitation of a temporary body, which includes members from the private sector, in the struggle for hegemony among the public prosecutor, the BAI, and the Chong Wa Dae. In addition, the overlap of the work with the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (CPC), which is an advisory body for the Chairman of BAI, resulted in inefficiency of the anti-corruption systems.

     

    3. New Ways Of Anti-Corruption Systems

    a) Independence of the Board of Audit and Inspection

    The BAI does not have powers of investigation nor of jurisdiction even though it can charge, and request punishment. With this entire backdrop the work of the BAI against corruption is faced with limitations.

    In spite of the inspection of the performance of government operations and duties of government officials, the BAI was limited to ex post facto measures rather than preventive ones. To be able to investigate the entire range of corruption, the BAI first needs to be strengthened in terms of human resources. It is doubtful whether the BAI staff of only 850 can cover all the audits and inspections of all the public officials in Korea. Kim Young Sam’s Administration have intended to revise the laws regarding the BAI, but they did too little. Realistic institutions should be introduced.

     

    We suggest several ways to create a stronger BAI –

    1. the BAI needs to be reorganized and enlarged. Currently it has only one division for inspection of performance of government operations and duties of government officials. It is short-staffed too. The current level of ‘inspector’, which corresponds to a deputy minister, should be upgraded to the level of minister. And to collect information secretly about the corrupt officials, a new task force needs to be installed in the BAI – something like the Performance Inspection Intelligence.
    2. to revise the laws about the BAI the responsibilities and rights regarding the inspection of the governmental works need to be redefined in greater detail. Integration of all the separate inspection bodies in each administrative system at all levels should also be considered. A system for the dispatching of inspectors from the BAI to each governmental body needs to be examined. The BAI should be able to have its branches spread all over the local provinces.
    3. the BAI needs more empowerment. Even though it has the power of audit and inspection, it does not have the right of investigation. This limits the BAI to cope only with the ‘side works’, not the main part.
    4. scientific research and analysis should be added to the workflow of the BAI so as to derive better the direction of inspection policies.

     

    It is quite important to evaluate the BAI in a systematic way to search for better implementation of its policies. In addition, it can be debated as to whether the BAI should belong to the executive branch or to the parliament. Also the BAI should be empowered to chase the bank accounts involved in the corruption; thus the Constitution and/or the laws for the BAI need to be reconsidered to determine its independence.

     

    b). Anti-Corruption Law

    In order to prevent corruption by government employees, the anti-corruption law has called for the formulation of a code of conduct for civil servants, and for strengthening of the financial penalty against corrupt officials and citizens.  This is done by recovering any personal gains (and government losses) caused by corrupt practices, as well as confiscating the bribe itself. Provisions for establishing and managing an anti-corruption organization, citizen watch groups and public participation in anti-corruption movements, the codes of conduct for public servants, the education and public information campaigns to strengthen public awareness against corruption were all included in the law.

    Presently most of the Asian countries have legislative measures against corruption. The anti-Corruption Law was established in Singapore in 1960, much earlier in Hong Kong in 1948, and in Malaysia in 1961.

    A couple of years ago, the Korean National Assembly passed the anti corruption Bill submitted by the Millennium Democratic Party on June 28th 2001 after more than five years of discussions. It is expected to go into effect by January 2002 following presidential approval. This law allows for the creation of an Anti Corruption Commission under the presidential office, the protection of whistle-blowers, the people’s right to ask for an audit and inspection, rewards for reporting corrupt activity, and sanctions against officials fired for corruption. According to the law anybody finding evidence of corruption can report it to the commission, while government officials are mandated immediately to notify it of illegal acts. People within government organizations reporting corruption will be protected from any discriminatory action in the workplace, through those making false reports face up to ten years imprisonment. Officials fired for corruption will be banned from working in any similar posts for five years (Chosun IlBo, 2001).

     

    c). International Cooperation

    The public prosecutor’s offices (PPO) in Japan and Italy, on the basis of their solid and rigid independence, put an end to the oligarchy in their countries, which had lasted for over 50 years after World War II. This was possible because they actively investigated the illegal connections between the politics and the businesses such as the Mafia or the Yakusa. The PPOs of both countries commonly enjoyed the neutrality, the independence, and the strong support from their people and what might be described as their divine dedication to the work. The ICAC of Hong Kong, responsible only to the Chief Executive, secures its independence from the government and the political hierarchy. The ICAC educates people about the issues deriving from corruption, as well as preventing the corruption by its own investigations. In addition, the ICAC metes out severe punishment to corrupt officials, and searches for  transparent personnel administration. The CPIB of Singapore also develops various programmes to fight corruption and institutionalizes these routines. Thus, in order to maximize the effect of anti-corruption policies Korea should observe and take into account such foreign success models – especially those successful Asian models. As a consequence we might see the interaction between the ICAC, the CPIB, and the ACA of Malaysia. Education programmes will become possible, in which staff are selected from the anti-corruption bodies such as the BAI or the PPO, and exchanged with foreign institutions for mutual benefit.

     

    4. Strategies and efforts to combat corruption in Korea

    The honest national leaders who have lived in the Asian countries generally state something like – ‘the immoral and unethical behavior in the public service is one of the most serious problems that obstructs national and democratic development’ (Gould, 1983).

    The implementation and operationalization of efficient anti-corruption strategies are significant and effective. In particular, considering the causes of painful changes in previous political regimes and their failures to combat corruption, we may point out clearly that the need for integrated strategies for controlling corruption in Korea is urgent. However, a one-time campaign has been seen to have an extremely limited impact on the level of corruption in a given polity (Theobald,1990).  That is, we need a sustainable and integrated strategy for controlling corruption. These strategies need to be dynamic and workable in order to attain the ultimate goal.

     

    Some plausible anti-corruption strategies are noted as follows –

    1) taking the causes of the failures of past regimes into consideration, the current Korean administration is aggressively pursuing comprehensive and systematic corruption prevention policies in cooperation with the public and business through basic strategies –

    ·         Promotion of administrative reforms in corruption-prone areas

    ·         Establishment of anti-corruption infrastructure

    ·         Expansion of citizen participation in administration and anti-corruption activities

    ·         Building public support for anti-corruption programme

    ·         Systemic implementation and enforcement of anti-corruption policies and programs

    2) since 1999, the government has identified 100 priority tasks necessary to prevent and eliminate corruption. Among these, 30 tasks are general tasks that should be implemented throughout the government; and the other 70 tasks are more specifically aimed at addressing problems in corruption-prone areas such as housing, construction, tax administration, police work, environmental management, and food and entertainment business

    3) unreasonable and excessive regulations can lead to corruption since people are likely to be tempted to bribe government officials in order to avoid their encumbrance in regulations – and government officials tend to abuse their abundant discretion to their own benefit.  These aspects need to be addressed.

     

    CONCLUSIONS

    The anti-corruption systems of Asian countries have been reviewed with a focus on Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. Their models needed to be considered and linked to those of Korea because the latter suffers from inefficiency and a lack of an effective anti-corruption infrastructure. Systematic and strenuous activities of the ICAC or the CPIB can be very illuminating for the Korean situation. For example, the ICAC’s consistent effort to maintain the trust of people [towards itself] by swearing to root out corruption presents a lesson to Korea. The great success of the ICAC was possible only with the financial assistance from its ‘local’ people. Also the strict enforcement of laws by the CPIB in Singapore makes corruption disappear. Similarly the ACA of Malaysia severely punishes the public officials corrupt with bribery or property misappropriation.

    Corruption being a complex and universal phenomenon in developing countries it is imperative that preventing corruption should be sought because it threatens the very pillars of the democratic experience in those countries (Werner, 1983).  That is why we need to carefully observe the reality of corruption, and seek an effective anti-corruption strategy. As mentioned earlier, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong have struggled with their own strategies for controlling corruption. The experiences of Hong Kong and Singapore in preventing corruption show that it is not really difficult to minimize this aspect if a strong system and the political will is present – as well as having their citizen’s cooperation. Conversely, although such political will of the top political leaders in the case of Korea is strong, systematic and well-organized measures, and the efficient and effective anti-corruption discipline for the public officials are still lacking. As a consequence, it has been very difficult to reduce corruption in Korea. In this country, more dramatic incentives to encourage the public officials low morale should be implemented. The government should consider appropriate increases in the official’s payment structure (following the example of Singapore).  Further, it should resolve promotion problems in its official hierarchy if the anti-corruption strategies are to work better (Kim, 1996).

    One of the main reasons why the corruption is not eradicated in Korea is that without any integrated policy for anti-corruption there were just shocking one-time counter measure events. We have found there was no real coordination network, nor a working linkage handling the anti-corruption drive, which led to a hegemony struggle among the relevant organizations. In addition, there was no educational programme, nor any public campaigns that could promote awareness against corruption. Now, with such problems in mind, the Korean Government should seek for a comprehensive and systematic approach in dealing with corruption problems and consider the successful cases of other Asian countries.

     

     

    REFERENCES

    ACA (1999), Annual Report,Malaysia:ACA

    Alatas Syed Hussein (1999), Corruption and the Destiny of Asia, Kuala Lumpur, Prentice Hall: 33

    Caiden G E (1991) A Dragons Progress: development administration in Korea, West Hartford: Kumarian Press

    Chosun Ilbo (2001), June 28  ,This is Korean daily news paper.

    Chun Soo Il (1999), Research on Code of Conduct for the Public Officials – focused on the Gift and Entertainment, Corruption Journal No. 4 ,p57

    CPIB(1999), CPIB Introduction,Singapore:Cpib

    Gould D J (1983) The Effects of Corruption Administrative Performance: illustration for developing countries, Washington; The World Bank,1983 : 1-41

    Ham Jung Ho (1996) Human Rights and Justice, Journal of Korean Bar Association, 8,p 100

    ICAC (2000), Annual Report,HongKong :ICAC

    Kim Byung Chul (1996), Foreign Anti-corruption Systems for the Public Officials and Their Operation, Inspection No. 46 ,p20

    Kim Young Jong (1998), Korean Public Administration and Corruption Studies, Seoul,

    HakMun  Publishing INC.,  p253

    Kim Taek (1999) Studies on Corrupt Public Officials, Seoul, Hakmoonsa, pp20-100

    Kim Taek (2000) Legal, Institutional, and Policy Measures against Administrative    Corruption, Proceedings in Korea Academic Society of Public Administration Conference,Seoul, Korea, p150

    Manion Melani (1996) Corruption by Design: bribery in Chinese Enterprise Licencing, Journal of Law, Economic and Organization 12:167-195

    Moon Jung In & Moh Jong Lin (1999) Corruption in Korea, Seoul, Oreum

    Presidential Commission on Anti-Corruption (2000), International Trends of Anti-Corruption, Proceedings at the Anti-Corruption Conference, Seoul,Korea

    Quah J (1989) Singapore’s Experience in Curbing Corruption.  In Heidenheimer A (ed), Political Corruption: A Hand Book. New  Brunswick, Transaction Publishers: 182

    Rooke P (1996) Global Anti Corruption Movements: The Role for Civil Society. PSPD. 2-26

    Business Ethics Symposium of Ryoo Sang Young (1999) Corruption Round & the Relationship between Government and Business, JoongAng-Ilbo ,Seoul,Korea

     

    Singapore (2000), Prevention of Corruption Act, CPIB, Singapore

    Theobald T (1990) Corruption, Development, and Underdevelopment, Durham: Duke University,U.S.A., p. 2

     

    Werner S B (1983) New Directions in the Study of Administrative Corruption. Public Administration Review 43:146 – 154

    Wraith R & Simpkin E (1968) Corruption in Developing Countries. New York, W.W.Norton and Company: 182

     

    Posted in Uncategorized | 31 Comments »

    Bring CJI under judicial council: Verma// “I personally feel that the Chief Justice of India should not be exempted… “

    Posted by egovernance on November 18, 2006

    Bring CJI under judicial council: Verma

    Special Correspondent

     http://www.hindu.com/2006/11/18/stories/2006111815090300.htm

    “I personally feel that the Chief Justice of India should not be exempted… ”

     

     

     

    NEW DELHI: The former Chief Justice of India, J.S. Verma, has said the new Judges (Inquiry) Bill is a much diluted version of what was contemplated when he was in office.

    The post of Chief Justice of India too should be brought under the purview of the proposed national judicial council, he said at a panel discussion .

    “The Chief Justice and all judges are alike. I personally feel that the Chief Justice of India should not be exempted… “

    When a comparison was sought to be made between the proposed Lok Pal and the judicial council, he said the situation was different.

    The Prime Minister should not come under the purview of Lok Pal.

    According to a Lok Sabha secretariat release, he said: “The Prime Minister being under a cloud, the country cannot function… there is a political process to get rid of a Prime Minister, who should not be there… I do not equate the Chief Justice’s position and offices, which I myself held [with that of the Prime Minister]. I am not saying it now. I said it even when I was holding the office of Chief Justice that Prime Minister should not be brought under the purview of Lok Pal… “

    Mr. Justice Verma said the Chief Justice should not be upset because in his opinion he equated the Chief Justice of India with the other judges of the Supreme Court and an exemption could give an impression that this was an indirect way of subordinating them which the Constitution did not envisage.

    Justice Verma agreed with Harish Khare, Chief of Bureau, The Hindu, that the judicial council should also be empowered to examine the complaints that might arise out of post-retirement activities of judges.

    The programme was moderated by Manoj Mitta, Senior Editor, The Times of India, and was part the series, “Countdown to Winter Session,” which will culminate with a curtain raiser to be telecast on the eve of the session.

    Posted in Courts in INDIA | Leave a Comment »

    Manmohan wants graft cases pursued vigorously

    Posted by egovernance on November 18, 2006

    Manmohan wants graft cases pursued vigorously

    Special Correspondent

    http://www.hindu.com/2006/11/18/stories/2006111803441400.htm

     

    Says Government intended to bring in a Public Services Bill

     

     


  • Spells out seven-point strategy
  • For evolving system that protects an honest mistake

     

    NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said the Government intended to bring in a Public Services Bill before Parliament to protect whistleblowers and to define a code of ethics and management.

    “The Billwill have the overall objective of developing public services as a professional, politically neutral, merit-based and accountable instrument for promoting good governance and better delivery of services to all our citizens.”

    Dr. Singh was addressing the 16th biennial conference of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the State Anti-Corruption Bureaux.

    Favouring an aggressive pursuit of corruption cases at the highest level, he spelt out a seven-point comprehensive strategy to reduce the scope for corruption, while at the same time providing space for individual initiative and action.

    Dr. Singh asked the CBI and other anti-corruption agencies to take a broader view of individual cases and make a distinction between a “bona fide mistake” and a deliberate “wrong-doing.” He called for putting in place a system that protected an honest mistake. “Life is full of uncertainty and in this environment, honest mistakes are unavoidable.”

    The strategy, unveiled by Dr. Singh, included undertaking reforms in the tax system, an area of high corruption; modernising the justice delivery system to cut down delays; eliminating all discretionary controls; reforming civil and defence procurement systems and decentralising administration and delivery of justice.

    Deterrence

    “The anti-corruption machinery should create deterrence against corruption by aggressively pursuing cases of high-level corruption to their logical end. Rapid, fair and accurate investigation of allegations of corruption against public servants at all levels should remain a priority.”

    Referring to Hindi movie Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Dr. Singh said he was touched by the ordeal of a senior citizen trying to get his pension without having to pay a bribe.

    “In stripping his clothes as an act of protest, this pensioner was stripping our system, exposing the ugly nakedness of the self-aggrandisement of those who man our institutions of governance.”

    Abolishing the licence-permit raj and reducing the extent of discretionary controls had made a major dent on corruption. “However, I am aware that many controls still remain and need to be either abolished or made transparent and non-discretionary.”

    “In the final analysis, however, there is no better protection against corruption in public life and in public services than an alert civil society. Our Government has empowered civil society through the Right to Information Act. However, it is public-minded individuals, non-governmental organisations and the media who have to take the initiative to mobilise people against corruption.”

    CBI chief’s plea

    CBI Director Vijay Shanker said while the agency took about a year or two to complete investigations in over 90 per cent of cases, it took 10 to 20 years for courts to complete trials.

    “More than 6,000 anti-corruption cases charge sheeted by the CBI are pending in courts. Hence, more special courts should be set up for speedy disposal of anti-corruption cases.”

  • Posted in Governance | Leave a Comment »

    PM calls for end to corruption, cites Lage Raho…

    Posted by egovernance on November 18, 2006

    PM calls for end to corruption, cites Lage Raho…
    Saturday November 18 2006 00:00 ISTIANS

     http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEL20061117044319&Title=Top+Stories&rLink=0

    NEW DELHI: Likening corruption to a canker that would blight the system, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday called for a comprehensive approach to eliminate sleaze and emphasised that lessons must be learnt from the Bollywood blockbuster “Lage Raho Munna Bhai”.

    Delivering the keynote address at a conference of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and state anti-corruption bureaus here, Manmohan Singh also announced that his government proposed to bring forward a Public Services Bill before parliament that would define a public services code of ethics and management.

    While referring to the smash hit film that had brought Mahatma Gandhi back into the popular reckoning, his second mention of the Sanjay Dutt starrer in less than two months, Manmohan Singh said he was touched by one incident where a senior citizen was trying to get his pension without having to pay a bribe.

    “In stripping his clothes, as an act of protest, this pensioner was stripping our system, exposing the ugly nakedness of the self-aggrandisement of those who man our institutions of governance.”

    “Any system in which a retired senior citizen is required to pay a bribe to secure his legitimate dues is a most despicable system,” he emphasised, adding, “Such corruption must be visited by the sternest action to reform, restructure and rejuvenate the system.”

    The prime minister had recently watched a special screening of the film along with members of his staff and family.

    Some of the other provisions of the proposed bill include protecting whistleblowers and having the objective of developing public services as a professional, politically neutral, merit based, and accountable instrument for promoting good governance and better delivery of services to all citizens.

    Pointing out that the level of tolerance of people to corruption in public life and administration had changed, the prime minister said he was happy that India’s ranking had improved in the global index of corruption in the last two years.

    Graft watchdog Transparency International said in its report last week that India was perceived to be marginally less corrupt than in 2005 – climbing to 70 of 183 countries.

    Alluding to economist Gunnar Myrdal’s book “The Asian Drama” that identified corruption as one of the constraints on development, Manmohan Singh agreed with the author’s perception that corruption in public life had contributed to India being a “soft state”.

    “The scale, the typology and the mechanisms of corruption may have changed, but the problem of corruption has not gone away,” he said.

    Detailing an all-inclusive strategy to combat corruption, Manmohan Singh made a fervent plea to the CBI to take a broader view of individual cases and be able to make a distinction between a “bonafide mistake” and deliberate “wrong-doing”.

    Some of the other elements underlined in this plan include elimination of all discretionary controls, reforming tax systems to make it simple and transparent, modernising the justice delivery system, reform of public procurement systems both civil as well as defence, with complete transparency in the tender processes at all stages.

    The Right to Information Act, he said, was also a powerful to combat corruption in public life and empower civil society.

    Manmohan Singh said he believed that a Citizen’s Charter stating explicitly the rights of taxpayers and consumers of public services was important because a citizen would be able to secure his entitlement without recourse to corruption.

    In a speech during his visit to South Africa last month, Manmohan Singh had made it a point to mention “Lage Raho Munnabhai”, though not by name.

    “I was heartened to see recently that back home in India the most popular movie this festival season is a film about a young man discovery of the universal and timeless relevance of the Mahatma’s message.”

    Posted in corruption | Leave a Comment »

    Rally on Right To Information Act

    Posted by egovernance on November 18, 2006

    Rally on Right To Information Act
    Saturday November 18 2006 00:08 IST

     http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=

    IET20061117134729&Title=Southern+News+%2D+Tamil+Nadu&rLink=0

    KANCHEEPURAM: District Collector Pradeep Yadav today flagged off the Right To Information (RTI) Act Awareness rally, organised by the Federation of Consumer Organisations of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (FEDCOT), at the Collectorate on Friday.

    The Collector also released handbills on Right To Information Act, which were received by the District Supplies Officer N Kuzandhai Velu.

    The handbills contained details of special features of the Right to Information Act 2005, types of information that could be sought from the government agencies, the departments and agencies from which information could be had, how to apply for information, fees to be paid for various information, names of public information officers, time frame for getting information, appeal methods and fine, in case of delay in issue of information to the concerned departments.

    The awareness campaign participants included Vandalur Consumer Rights Protection Organisation, Ayappan Thangal Paranipudur Consumer Rights Protection Organisation, Utiramerur Taluk Consumer Rights Protection Organisation, Madurandagam Taluk Consumer Rights Protection Organisation, Tsunami Law Consulting Committee, Chennai, Manitha Urimaikana Kudimakkal Iyakkam, Kancheepuram, and Kancheepuram District Consumer Protection Organisation.

    Posted in RTI | 1 Comment »

    India can become knowledge superpower: Manmohan

    Posted by egovernance on November 18, 2006

    India can become knowledge superpower: Manmohan

    HindustanTimes.com
    New Delhi, November 17, 2006

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/specials/leadership2006/coverage_17110605.shtml

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday voiced confidence that India can become a superpower in the knowledge industry.

    India might not be a superpower in the traditional sense, but it can be a superpower in the world of knowledge, he said delivering his keynote address at the fourth Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on “India: Next Global Superpower?”.

    Noting that India’s traditional export has been that of knowledge, Singh said “can this not be the power we seek?”

    He said the empires of the future would be the empires of the mind and appealed to the leaders of the knowledge industry to work towards the goal.

    Regretting that India had missed the industrial revolution because of neglect of modern science and technology in the 18th and 19th centuries, Singh asked people not to miss the new wave of industrialisation and make use of the available opportunities.

    He said India’s goal should be to ensure a prosperous, secure and dignified future for its people and participate in a just world order.

    Singh said India should aim at rule-based rather than power-based relationships.

    In response to a question on passege of the passage of the bill on Indo-US civil nuclear deal in the US Senate, the Prime Minister said he welcome it. However, he noted that there was still a long way to go before the July 2005 agreement became a reality.

    The Prime Minster expressed caution saying there were aspects in the bill passed by the Senate on Friday and another by the House of Representatives in July that were not identical and the differences needed to be reconciled. And given the American legislative process, this was bound to take a few weeks.

    He said that he sincerely hoped the ideas and areas of mutual concern spelt out in the 123 agreement would be honoured.

    To a question on how India could ensure it did not miss the next wave of industrialisation, Manmohan Singh said though much of the recent growth was being witnessed in the services and information and technology sectors, special emphasis would have to be laid on manufacturing, particularly labour intensive manufacturing.

    The Prime Minister invited expatriate Indians to openly participate in infrastructure and manufacturing, sectors that were booming and offered newer opportunities. His remarks came in response to a question on how the NRIs could help India ride the next wave of industrialisation.

    Earlier, the Prime Minister began his keynote address by saying India was committed to a better future for its people not because it wanted the superpower tag but because “we want to live in peace and dignity”

    Posted in Govt. of INDIA | Leave a Comment »

    Be ruthless on corruption: PM

    Posted by egovernance on November 18, 2006

    Be ruthless on corruption: PM
     
    New Delhi, DHNS & Agencies:

    http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/nov182006/national23182620061117.asp

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on Friday, advocated the aggressive pursuance of cases pertaining to high-level corruption to their logical ends. He also suggested reforms in the tax system, an area of high corruption, to combat the widening menace.

    Dr Singh was addressing the 16th Biennial Conference on anti-corruption of the CBI on its concluding day.

    “The anti-corruption machinery in the country should create deterrence against it by aggressively pursuing cases of high-level corruption to their logical end. Rapid, fair, and accurate investigation of allegations of corruption against public servants at all levels should remain a priority,” he said.

    Stressing for a comprehensive strategy to reduce the scope of corruption, the Prime Minister said, “We must work out an integrated approach for dealing with corruption. Agencies like the CBI can’t operate in isolation.”

    Calling for a distinction between an “honest mistake” and deliberate “wrong-doing”, Dr Singh said, “We need to have a system that protects a honest mistake. Life is full of uncertainty and in this environment, honest mistakes are unavoidable.”

    He also announced that his government would bring forward a Public Services Bill before the parliament to define a public services code of ethics and management.

    The provisions of the proposed bill include protection of whistleblowers and measures for developing public services as a professional, politically-neutral, merit-based and accountable instrument for promoting good governance and better delivery of services to all citizens.

    Munnabhai

    He also said there were lessons to be learnt for the recent hit Lage Raho Munnabhai, which had brought Mahatma Gandhi back into the public consciousness.

    In his second mention of the Sanjay Dutt-starrer in less than two months, Dr Singh said he was touched by a particular scene in which a senior citizen was trying to get his pension without having to pay a bribe.

    “By stripping his clothes as an act of protest, this pensioner was stripping our system — exposing the ugly nakedness of the self-aggrandisement of those who man our institutions of governance,” he said, adding:

    “ Any system in which a retired senior citizen is required to pay a bribe to secure his legitimate dues is a most despicable one. Such corruption must be visited by the sternest action to reform, restructure and rejuvenate the system.”

    Pointing out that the level of tolerance to corruption in public life and the administration had changed, the Prime Minister said he was happy that India’s ranking in the global index of corruption had improved over the last two years.

    The Right to Information Act, he said, was also a powerful tool for combating corruption in public life and empowering civil society.

    Posted in corruption | 1 Comment »

    Watchdog says India less corrupt, but public sceptical

    Posted by egovernance on November 16, 2006

    Watchdog says India less corrupt, but public sceptical

    Published: Monday, 13 November, 2006, 09:41 AM Doha Time

    NEW DELHI: India has become less corrupt domestically, graft watchdog Transparency International said in its latest annual survey, but Indian analysts and members of the public are not so convinced.

    India’s ranking on the agency’s Corruption Perception Index 2006, based on surveys with business people and analysts, improved from 88 in 2005 to 70 this year, and its honesty score rose from 2.9 to 3.3.

    The least corrupt countries in the world — Finland, Iceland and New Zealand — tied for first place with honesty scores of 9.6, according to the survey released last week.

    But Kuldeep Mathur, a former professor of governance at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University who has studied Indian bureaucracy, was unconvinced about India’s ratings improvement.

    “I don’t think there’s much credibility in drawing a conclusion that India is now doing better than it was doing before,” said Mathur, who believes procedural red tape must be cut to reduce corruption.

    “The number of forms that have to be filled in, the number of inquiries that have to be made… I’ve not seen any evidence that procedures at work have undergone a change.”

    The nation has long been notorious for corruption, with Indians paying $4.6bn in bribes each year to obtain basic services such as water and electricity, according to another Transparency study.

    But Mathur said new technology held the potential to change the way things have worked for decades in India.

    “The prime example of this is the railways bookings and reservations” so people no longer have to pay bribes to get seats, he said.

    Technological changes like those in the railways as well as in record-keeping are some of the forces behind this year’s improved score, an official with the Indian arm of Transparency said.

    “Activism on the part of the courts, the Supreme Court and high courts, has (also) helped,” said Santosh Kumar Agarwal, vice-chairman of Transparency India.

    He highlighted the role of the national Right-to-Information Act, in place for a year. Under it, citizens can petition government agencies for information, which must be released within a fixed amount of time.

    Newspapers regularly report on acts of government wrongdoing uncovered by intrepid citizens using the act.

    But Indians on the street were more cautious about the country’s improved ratings.

    In New Delhi’s commercial centre, Connaught Place, people said civil servants were as likely to ask for bribes as ever but citizens could accomplish some tasks now using the Internet and did not have to deal face-to-face with the bureaucracy.

    “People are more educated nowadays. That helps,” said Pradeep Kumar Jain, 31, a cigarette and sweet seller, who first laughed when asked if he thought the country was less corrupt but then said things were “slightly better.”

    “You can get more work done on computer, by the Internet, it’s easier to find information,” Jain said.

    Telephone numbers for many government officials and agencies are now available online along with information about application procedures and fees.

    “Because of computerisation and e-governance there’s much more supervision and checking by senior people,” said former bureaucrat N C Saxena who has written extensively about graft in India’s administrative services.

    But based on his travels as a member of an Indian policy advisory body, he added, “I don’t think there has been a substantial change. In some places it’s up, in some places down.”

    The manager of a Delhi parking lot said things were as bad as ever.

    “If anything corruption is going up with inflation,” said Amresh Kumar Tiwari, 35, in the parking business for a decade.

    “You can’t get any government work done without paying a bribe. Otherwise it’s the same old delaying tactics: Come today, no, come tomorrow, come the day after. It won’t happen fast. With bribes, it gets done fast.” – AFP

    Posted in corruption | Leave a Comment »

    Company Bill to be tabled in the Budget session

    Posted by egovernance on November 16, 2006

    Company Bill to be tabled in the Budget session

    ENS ECONOMIC BUREAU

    http://www.indianexpress.com/story/16399.html

    Posted online: Saturday, November 11, 2006 at 0000 hrs http://www.indianexpress.com/printerFriendly/16399.html

     

    Corporate law: Limited Liability Partnership Bill in coming winter session

    New Delhi, November 10: The Ministry of Company Affairs will introduce the new Company Bill in Parliament in the budget session of 2007. Company Affairs Minister Prem Chand Gupta said, at a conference on corporate laws organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), that the ministry is giving final touches to the bill which has been comprehensively revised keeping in mind internationally accepted best practices.

    The ministry has been told by various industry associations that the new law should absolve non-executive directors from the contentious Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act.

    The ministry has also finalised the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) Bill which will be introduced in the ensuing winter session of the parliament. Gupta said that while the industry is looking at the Naresh Chandra committee for reforms, the ministry has gone a step further by allowing multi disciplinary LLP in the bill. Clarifying on the issue of foreign investment in LLP, Gupta said that one of the designated partners in LLP must be a resident Indian.

    The ministry is also working towards operationalising competition commission at the earliest. The government has introduced amendments to the Competition Act after taking into consideration legal challenges and orders of the apex court on the issue.

    “These amendments are under consideration of Standing Committee on Finance and we shall take the process forward immediately on receipt of the report,” he said.

    The officials of the ministry will meet members of the Committee on November 16 to take the process forward.

    Gupta expressed satisfaction by the progress made by e-filing by companies which was been made mandatory last month. “The MCA-21 e-governance project has had a smooth transition with 80 per cent of all filings by corporates from their virtual front offices. More than 400,000 documents have been filed electronically by now and around 18,000 companies have been incorporated on line,” Gupta said.

    On the issue of ensuring uniformity on stamp duty across the country, Gupta said that the ministry can do little as it is a state subject. “There is not a single state, which is in a position to lower stamp duty because of revenue considerations,” he said.

    States generate revenues by levying stamp duty for execution of various deeds, agreements and negotiable instrument including bills of exchange, and articles of association.

    The rates of the stamp duties vary from one state to another and this does not comes under the purview of the union government, he said.

    editor@expressindia.com

    Posted in Govt. of INDIA | Leave a Comment »