Moldova: time to tackle corruption

Moldova is a small land-locked country of 3.5 million people in the heart of Europe and, amid all the turmoil in neighbouring Ukraine, we will be going to the polls on 30 November. Given our position, our large Russian-speaking population and our dependence on Russian gas, this election may determine how far Moldova can progress in its fight against corruption.

We currently have a west-leaning government that signed Association Agreements with the European Union in June, despite pressure from Russia to join its Customs Union. The good news is the preparation for European Union integration has helped improve our rankings in the majority of indices that measure quality of life: from the Human Development Index and Good Governance Index, to the Media Freedom Index and the Index of Economic Freedom.

But Moldova’s score in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index remains poor at 35 out of 100, indicating a failing grade and widespread corruption. The challenge for the new government will be to strengthen the anti-corruption framework.

This summer Transparency International Moldova completed a National Integrity System study that found none of the 13 pillars identified as contributing to the good governance of a country is robust enough to ward off corruption. The areas that have the most corruption risks are political parties, private sector businesses and the legislature. The judiciary also needs immediate reform.

We recommend strengthening all elements of the current anti-corruption framework: the National Anti-Corruption Centre, the National Integrity Commission, and the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s office. And there needs to be much more transparency in government.

We came up with a long list of recommendations that we are advocating the election candidates to incorporate into any future government anti-corruption strategy. This is a shortlist of our top asks:

  • Conflicts of interest: more needs to be done to punish civil servants who abuse their positions. Contracts that are awarded with clear conflicts of interest need to be cancelled.
  • Asset declarations: public servants, judges, prosecutors, government and parliament members already publish asset declarations on the website of the National Integrity Commission, but the commission needs to verify these declarations (including property abroad), find discrepancies between incomes and assets and apply sanctions to those who cannot explain the provenance of their assets.
  • Greater transparency: the draft law on transparency of political parties and election campaign funding should be adopted and the capacity of the Central Election Commission should be strengthened so that it can work with fiscal and law-enforcement bodies to verify the legality of where political parties get their money from.

Each year Transparency International Moldova helps review between 15 and 20 legal documents in the anti-corruption field. It conducts trainings, workshops and public debates in the anti-corruption field for thousands of ordinary citizens, public servants, business people and representatives of mass media. We published a handbook for journalists now used in journalism departments at some Moldovan universities and we organise an annual contest for investigative journalists.

We have a lot to offer the new government to improve its ability to fight corruption. We also encourage greater civic activism and hope to see the general public involved in anti-corruption work.

We will continue to push for greater focus on the requirements of the European Union Association Agreements and for immediate implementation of the anti-corruption elements that, for now, are still only on the drawing board.

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