Skopje, 25 May 2020 (MIA) – A significant number of citizens believe that corruption is present on the local level, and even greater proportion of them believe that reporting corruption is a fight lost even before it begun, show results of the public opinion survey conducted by NGO Info-centre under the auspices of its “Spotlight on Local Level Anti-Corruption Practices” project, financially supported by USAID.
The NGO Info-centre, conducted a public opinion survey on citizens’ perception of presence of corruption on the local level. The over-the-phone poll was conducted in January 2020, by Indago agency, on a representative sample of 1102 persons.
The results of the poll indicate that citizens perceive the institutions as being inefficient in prevention and sanctioning of corruption, and that reporting corruption could cause problems for the persons that reported some form of corrupt action or behavior.
“Corruption in municipalities, according to citizens, is present in employment policies and procedures, appointment of directors, allocation of construction permits, inspection surveillance and control, preparation of detailed urban plans, public procurement procedures and allocation of public subsidies. The citizens noted that all offices and positions in the local administrations are equally susceptible to corruption, and made special mention of local inspectorates, mayors, civil servants in the municipal administrations and directors of local public institutions and enterprises,” reads the press release of NGO Info-centre.
A high percentage of citizens are not satisfied with the direction in which affairs progress in their municipalities and the work of the municipal administration in their respective municipalities.
“Citizens are not very satisfied with the transparency and accountability of local administrations, too. They consider that municipal budgets are not spent to meet their needs and feel that they are not sufficiently involved in the planning of local budgets, and that they are not sufficiently informed about the spending of municipal funds,” press release reads.
Almost half of the citizens noted that there was (or there was a lot) of corruption on the local level. The citizens of the Polog Region, ethnic Albanians and persons aged 30 to 69, believe that there is a lot of corruption on municipal level.
According to the polled citizens, highest levels of corruption are present in employment in local administrations (66%), appointments of directors of local public enterprises and other institutions (66%), allocation of construction permits (62%), implementation of inspection controls (61%), preparation of detailed urban and spatial plans (59%), public procurement procedures (59%), allocation of public subsidies (59%) and collection of taxes (56%).
In terms of which offices/positions are most susceptible to corruption, almost a third of the polled citizens used an answer that was not on the list of multiple choice responses – “all of them are equally susceptible” (32.6%). That response is followed by inspectorates (17.5%), mayor’s offices (10.4%), local civil servants (10.1%) and directors of local institutions (8%).
Almost one third of the polled citizens believe that levels of corruption are similar to the levels of corruption in 2017. Twenty-six percent (26%) believe that there is less corruption, and 25% find that there is more corruption on the local level today, compared to 2017, public opinion survey shows.
Thirteen percent (13%) of the polled citizens responded that they personally, or a close friend or relative, faced corruption practices, 15% of whom reported the corruption. In terms of regional distribution, almost a quarter of the polled citizens in the Eastern Region said they had close contact with corruption, compared to just 6% of the polled citizens in the Northeast Region. It was the citizens of ages 30 to 49, economically the most active age group, that had highest rates of contact with corruption.
In addition to the perception of presence of corruption on the local level, another cause of concern is the finding that 66% of the polled citizens believe that reporting corruption could cause problems to persons that reported it, while almost 60% of the polled citizens believe that reporting corruption is a battle lost in advance, having in mind that competent institutions are not efficient in prevention and sanctioning of corruption.
Asked about their choice of institution to which they would report corruption, almost a quarter (22%) said that they wouldn’t report it at all, 33% would go to the police, 18% to the media, 17% to the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption, 8% to the office of the Ombudsman, 7% to the Prosecution Office, and 4% to some CSO.
In terms of transparency and accountability of municipal administrations, majority of the citizens are dissatisfied with the transparency and accountability of local administrations and feel that they are not sufficiently involved in the planning of local budgets, and that they are not sufficiently informed about the spending of municipal funds.
Regarding the work of the mayors, 38% of the citizens noted that the mayors of their respective municipalities are doing a great job, while 37% gave negative grades to their respective mayors. The best graded were the mayors of the Vardar, Northeast and Southeast Region, while the lowest-grades to the mayors were given by the citizens of the Skopje, Pelagonija and Polog Region. Citizens of rural areas are more satisfied with the work of their mayors than the citizens of the urban municipalities.
Regarding municipal administrations, almost 40% of the polled citizens expressed dissatisfaction with their work, with citizens of the Polog Region being the least satisfied. Significant number of the polled citizens (37%) believe that things in their municipalities go in the wrong directions, compared to 29% indeterminate and 31% who said that things progress well in their respective municipality,” reads the press release of NGO Info-centre.