Commission’s Good Governance Plan
Nowadays, there seems to be a global consensus that the rule of law, participatory democracy, transparency and accountability, social justice, responsiveness and effectiveness, and governance through mutual consensus are the core principles of good governance. Particularly, reducing poverty through the enhancement of development is considered to be the most important manifestation of the effectiveness of good governance in a country. Cognizant of this, the Ethiopian Government is doing everything in its capacity to improve and strengthen good governance in order to boost overall development of the Country. It is the conviction of the Ethiopian Government that ensuring good governance is a major and decisive step towards the realization of the nation’s development and democratization visions. To achieve this, the Government needs to mobilize the public, ensure transparency and accountability in government operations, and curb corruption and impropriety. In this regard, the Country has been implementing the first cycle of the five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) in the last few years. It is now in the fourth year of implementation of this Plan. This Plan was drawn to strengthen democracy and good governance, which in turn could extricate the Country from abject poverty by enhancing development.
The above-mentioned multi-dimensional good governance plan of the Country will be implemented by different government agencies, including the Federal Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission of Ethiopia. The issues of improving governance and curbing corruption have been among the core components of the Growth and Transformation plan which has been under implementation for the last four years or so. Undoubtedly, therefore, the Commission has a very important stake in tackling corruption under the banner of the national governance improvement plan. As an anti-corruption institution that is in the vanguard of the anti-corruption struggle in the Country at the Federal level, the Commission, during the five-year Growth and Transformation Plan, prioritized tackling corruption in the areas of land administration, customs and tax administration, big public procurements, and administration of justice.
Accordingly, the Commission has been following a three-pronged approach in tackling corruption at the federal level. The three fronts are expanding ethics and anti-corruption education, reviewing corruption-prone working procedures in public offices and enterprises and putting forward corrective measures following the completion of the reviews, and investigating and prosecuting corruption offences. Through the various law enforcement measures, also, the Commission recovers assets lost to corruption and ensures their return to government ownership through court order. The launch and implementation of the Assets Disclosure and Registration Programme has also preventive and curative role in the struggle against corruption. The participation of the different stakeholders in those preventive and curative activities is also given due consideration.
In the 2006 budget year (Ethiopian Calendar), the Commission will continue to implement its anti-corruption programmes in line with the GTP and its priority areas. In this regard, the problems of good governance and their causes, consequences of those problems, and the solutions to those problems have received prior attention and consideration in the Commission’s good governance plan which is under implementation since recently. In connection with big public procurements, the Commission identified the following problems, which are to be dealt with through its good governance plan:
•Poor quality of the construction of bridges, roads, buildings, dams, irrigation channels, water works, etc.;
•Malfunctioning of those infrastructures within a short period of time;
•Delaying of those projects;
•Exaggerated price and wrong design; and
•Impartiality in the conduct and floating of tenders for those projects.
In order to curb those problems, solutions have been proposed in the plan. Chief among the proposed solutions are the following:
•Offering awareness-raising education (in collaboration with the Public Procurement and Property Administration Agency) on ethics and anti-corruption to government organizations and suppliers which are engaged in big procurement, thereby enabling relevant procurement officers, officials, and suppliers to reject corruption and impropriety in this area;
•Identifying organizations that are exposed to corruption and impropriety through surveys, reviewing their working procedures, putting forward corrective recommendations, and following up the implementation of those recommendations;
•Giving priority to the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences in this area brought to the attention of the Commission by whistleblowers;
•Recovering assets lost to corruption and returning them to government ownership upon court order; and
•Registering the assets and income of registrants in the sector.
In relation to construction projects, the Commission is intending to do the following in cooperation with various stakeholders:
•Offering awareness-raising education on ethics and anti-corruption to employees, officials, and consultants engaged in the construction industry as members of public offices or private organizations, thereby enabling them to reject corruption in all its forms;
•Reviewing the working procedures of organizations which are engaged in controlling and constructing, proposing corrective recommendations, and following up the implementation of those recommendations;
•Giving priority to the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences in the construction sector; and
•Recovering assets lost to corruption and returning them to government ownership upon court order.
With regard to land administration, the Commission identified the following problems:
•Granting and transferring urban land to individuals and organizations illegally;
•Complicated and highly bureaucratic nature of issuance of title deeds and building permits;
•Granting title deeds through bribery;
•Invalidating and nullifying title deeds without reason and justification to do so; and
•Preparing more than one house plans for the same urban site and issuing title deeds for different persons.
The plan tries to address the problems (in cooperation with the Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa City Governments) by:
•Providing ethics and anti-corruption education to relevant government agencies and other stakeholders;
•Identifying corruption-prone working procedures in the relevant organizations through the review of their working procedures, proposing recommendations to plug them, and follow up the implementation of the corrective recommendations;
•Giving priority to the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences in the area of land administration;
•Recovering assets lost to corruption in the area of land administration and returning them to government ownership upon court order;
•Registering the assets and income of elected relevant persons in the area; and
•Establishing and strengthening ethics liaison offices in the relevant organizations and encouraging their participation in the alleviation of those problems.
Pertaining to finance, tax, and customs, the Commission identified the following major problems:
•Importing and exporting of sub-standard and prohibited goods and services paying little or no taxes;
•Failure to collect income taxes through collusion with rent-seeking business persons;
•Benefiting from the whistle blowing scheme of the government illegally by creating fake whistle blowing claims on tax evasion, when the crime is detected without any information from any whistle blower;
•Destroying, concealing, or forging documents on taxes and customs;
•Committing a crime of money laundering; and
•Withdrawing public money from banks illegally and using it for personal purposes.
With a view to curbing the above-mentioned problems, the Commission has incorporated the following measures in its good governance plan:
•Offering training on ethics and anti-corruption education to relevant people, including public servants, officials, and business people in collaboration with the Revenues and Customs Authority, Ministry of Trade, General Auditor, and other stakeholders, thereby enabling them to reject corruption;
•Identifying corruption-prone working procedures in the relevant organizations through the review of their working procedures, proposing recommendations to plug them, and following up the implementation of the corrective recommendations;
•Giving priority to the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences in the area of financial administration;
•Recovering assets lost to corruption in this area and returning them to government ownership upon court order;
•Registering the assets and income of registrants in the relevant organizations;
Regarding problems in the administration of justice, it has been stated in the Commission’s good governance plan that identifying the problems in partnership with courts and police commissions, proposing corrective recommendations to curb the problems, following up the implementation of the recommendations, giving priority for the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences committed in this sector, recovering assets looted through corruption in the sector and returning them to government ownership through court order and conducting the registration of assets of the relevant registrants in the sector are the measures proposed.
Other governance-related problems, in addition to the above-mentioned ones, have also been identified and the Commission’s good governance plan has proposed solutions for them as well. It has also been underscored that organized public participation in the implementation of the Commission’s Good Governance Plan is vitally important. In this regard, the Commission is working in close partnership with different cross-sections of the society. In fact, various parts of the society and stakeholders in general deliberated on the Plan in a consultative workshop and enriched it with their constructive comments. Participants of the Workshop commended the achievements that the Commission had made so far while also urging the latter to do more to alleviate problems of good governance that were still there. The Commission, on its part, attaches significant premium to the comments given by the participants and will take extra measures to enhance and promote public participation in the implementation of this vitally important plan.