Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Corruption will not be diminished in Mongolia until 2020

In 2015, Mongolia had a score of 39 out of 100 on the corruption index published by Transparency International, and was ranked 72nd among 168 countries. Our southern neighbor was in 84th place with a score of 37, whereas our neighbor to the north scored 29 and was ranked 119th. Denmark scored highest with 91 points, followed by Finland, Sweden, and New Zealand.

Our country scored 36, 38, and 39 in 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively. It shows that the level of corruption in Mongolia has become stuck, instead of being reduced. Transparency International noted that this is due to senior officials linked to corruption not being held accountable.

In Mongolia, many cases related to corrupt officials who used to be, or are still, in the government and public service start with a lot of noise. However, it has been long time since such cases have quickly disappeared, despite the initial commotion.

This means that the current authorities and the opposition hold each other up for ransom, and the government is tied up with corruption.

High-level corruption is when a small group of people who exercise political authority grows wealthy by taking advantage of public property, while the remaining majority cannot overcome poverty.

What is common to corrupt countries is that economic development is unsustainable with continuous economic decline, the private sector is weak in competitiveness, the gap between the rich and the poor is wide, and spending on national security is high.


When and how will Mongolia get rid of this enemy in corruption? The wider society is increasing its awareness of where corruption starts and how to stop it. It is now the time to combat corruption relentlessly, in the right way.

SOURCE OF MONGOLIA’S CORRUPTION

After spending 25 years on the path of democracy and seeing many elections take place, we have finally understood that corruption is a cancer in our society, hampering development, and it is closely linked with our political parties and their financing.

A month ago, and for the first time in our history, one of the senior leaders of a political party that held ruling power for many years publicly disclosed that he handed over 50,000 USD to his party leader and was caught while preparing to give him another 120,000 USD.

This was a statement from Shiilegdamba, who was arrested when he was the General Secretary of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party and the Minister of Health and Sports. What he said realistically depicted the political parties in Mongolia.

When wealthy businessmen enter politics, free competition in the industries they operate in disappears. Industries such as alcohol, tobacco, mining, construction, and banking are controlled by lawmakers and authorities today. It is the reason why these important industries do not have market competition and can no longer see foreign investment coming in.

Mongolia’s corruption is not diminishing because our political parties are corrupt, our public governance has also grown corrupt due to the same political parties, and the government lacks capability and stability. Also, government agencies have become dependent on and controlled by politicians, while press freedom is weak.

HOW TO STOP POLITICAL PARTY CORRUPTION TODAY

The current parliamentarians are well aware that the laws on elections, political parties, and public service need to be revised. But they are taking their time to do so. It has been proven that the clauses on processes, assessment, reporting, monitoring, and accountability in these laws are not complete or clear.

Using those loopholes, political parties have been accumulating a huge amount of money by numerous means, and repaying financial backers through public tenders after taking control of political positions.

Political and business groups that go under the name of “political faction” have started exercising ruling power one after another. The only difference between them is the amount of money they’ve gathered for their party.

The balance of power between these factions is maintained or lost depending on whether or not they receive high returns after spending money on their political party and elections. There is now a trend that the government is replaced when the balance is lost, and the next faction comes into power.

A new government carries out the redistribution of positions and power through organizational changes, which has made the structure and operations of the government unstable.

The Law on Elections was revised and passed just before the start of the new year. This was a step that would reduce election-related corruption in political parties.

Unfortunately, the current parliament did not manage to pass the Law on Political Parties. Therefore, when a new government is formed after the 2016 elections, those who’ve donated the most money to their political party will still be able to be assigned senior positions. They will still be able to buy seats and positions.

This is why Mongolia’s corruption will not be diminished in the next four years, as the parliament tries to pass and implement the new Law on Political Parties. The same logic applies to a common reluctance to revise the Law on Public Service.

THE MAIN WAY TO COMBAT CORRUPTION

In order to stop corruption that starts with political parties, it is time to pass a national program to fight corruption aside from the above-mentioned laws. The first anti-corruption program finished in 2010, and the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) was established under its framework. The IAAC has now become the main cause of frustration for corrupt politicians.

The infuriated politicians are purposefully refusing to pass the national program to fight corruption and are afraid to set up a national council on combating corruption. This council will only be able to find, stop, and prevent corruption at the national level if it ensures involvement from the government and civil society.

Mongolia was mentioned in a 2015 report on corruption prepared by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Open Society Forum and Transparency International have recently done a study using the CRINIS methodology and concluded that the current situation of political party financing, and specific parts of it, need special attention.

Having compared the implementation of laws that regulate political party financing during election and non-election years, the CRINIS study says that there is huge cash flow in Mongolia’s politics because of the lack of legislation to ensure the transparency of political party financing, and the ineffectiveness of organizations that are supposed to oversee the implementation of these laws.

This situation creates conditions where equality is lost among citizens and those who have economic power have a greater influence on the authorities. Furthermore, it gives advantages to candidates who have more financial resources, and nurtures unfair competition between political parties.

Elected politicians become more likely to enter relations with donors that are at high risk of corruption. It makes the donors demand benefits or preference from elected officials. The study says that developing and passing laws is not enough, and the laws need to be complied with.
The study also showed that there is a lack of systematic oversight for government agencies, the press, opposition groups, civil society organizations, scholars, and citizens.

Unless the legal environment for fighting corruption is improved, a mechanism that holds culprits accountable is set up, and political party financing is made transparent, Mongolia will not be able to get rid of corruption.

Trans. by B.AMAR

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