Regarding yesterday’s reaction of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption stating that the conclusions we presented in the panel discussion “Control of Asset Declarations and Conflict of Interest – Reforms or Status Quo?” are “Inaccurate and imprecise” we point out the following:
The Agency for the Prevention of Corruption has been timely and through formal channels of communication invited to delegate as many representatives as it wants and can to participate in our event and discuss the topics with us and other participants in an open dialogue. Despite the fact that the invitation to participate was sent in a timely manner – seven days before the event, and our persistent insistence that the Agency delegates its representatives, the representatives of the Agency did not accept our invitation.
The e-mail we received from the Agency reads “due to increased workload in this period and numerous previously planned work obligations, the Agency is not able to delegate representatives who would participate in the panel,” claiming that none of its 55 employees can attend the gathering.
On the other hand, “increased workload” did not prevent the Agency to send its reaction denying publicly available data on the Agency’s website immediately after the event. In its reaction, the Agency denounces information that was not stated at the event, and in support of it gives new data that the Agency selfishly keeps away from the public, presents only partially and uses in the way it best suits its own interests.
According to asset declarations of Mr Radonjić and Marković for 2016 available on the Agency’s website, these officials did not give consent to the Agency for access to their bank accounts, which was stated at the event and proof of which we provide in the attachment to this reaction. If the Agency had some other information, it was supposed to proactively inform the public and modify the information on its website so that the public would be aware of this.
(Im)partiality of the Agency is best seen in the light of its reaction to our findings whereby it first disputes consent for the Prime Minister and then for the director of the institution. Thus, the Agency once again steps out to defend the highest public official with close ties to its director, which we have repeatedly pointed out as a problem that sheds doubts on the impartiality of the work of the Agency.
In regard to disputed results of the public opinion survey, we note that the questions from the survey that Ipssos Agency conducted for our needs aimed at assessing impartiality of the Agency, the question which the survey conducted by DAMAR Plus for the needs the Agency did not deal with it. Nevertheless, we consider the question of impartiality as a very important one for the integrity of the Agency and citizens’ trust in its effectiveness, which is why the Agency should also include it in its forthcoming public opinion surveys.
Finally, although the available data confirm our findings, we remain open to exchange views and information with the Agency’s representatives. We are glad that the Agency announced that it will provide a more detailed overview of our findings, as this is a prerequisite for making progress in important areas of its work and enhancing its transparency.
Public Policy Researcher