Fighting corruption to improve governance in FYR Macedonia

UNDP supported the creation of a code of ethics in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, to ensure that local authorities are more responsible towards their citizens. (Photo: UNDP - the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)
UNDP supported the creation of a code of ethics in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, to ensure that local authorities are more responsible towards their citizens. (Photo: UNDP - the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)

The government decentralization process launched in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYR Macedonia) a decade ago was motivated by the desire to bring public services closer to citizens.

According to numerous public opinion polls since the process began, however, people perceive corruption as a significant obstacle for good governance, one that degrades the quality of public services like health and education while also making foreign investors think twice before investing in the country.

“Corruption can be a major obstacle to progress,” says Alessandro Fracassetti, Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in FYR Macedonia. “Above all it prevents people — and typically the people who are most in need — from having access to quality services.”

Highlights

  • UNDP supported the creation of a code of ethics to ensure that local authorities are more responsible towards citizens; the code has already been adopted by all 84 of FYR Macedonia’s municipal governments
  • Over 250 civil servants received specialized training in administrative procedures, urban planning, communal activities and financial management.
  • UNDP also helped four municipal governments -- Veles, Tetovo, Gevgelija and Bitola – receive the country’s first International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certifications in “quality management systems,” which sets out a list of customer service and internal audit requirements for organizations, companies and governments.
  • Twelve municipalities in the country have fully committed themselves to introducing systems for ensuring greater integrity in local government.

Transparency and accountability are crucial to good governance and equitable, socially inclusive development. Tackling corruption is an essential aspect of UNDP’s commitment to good governance and a top priority for the country’s government.

In recent years, with support from Government of Norway, UNDP has been supporting the Government of FYR Macedonia’s anti-corruption reforms, including the preparation and drafting of a four year national anticorruption programme. To begin the process, UNDP conducted an assessment of corruption and transparency levels in selected cities, allowing it to identify systemic weaknesses that foster corruption or allow it to continue unchecked.

UNDP also supported the creation of a code of ethics to ensure that local authorities are more responsible towards their citizens. The code has already been adopted by all of the country’s 84 municipal governments. Over 250 civil servants received specialized training in administrative procedures, urban planning, communal activities and financial management; an additional 30 journalists from national and local media outlets received intensive training in investigative journalism techniques from Reuters.

UNDP also helped four municipal governments -- Veles, Tetovo, Gevgelija and Bitola – receive the country’s first International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification in “quality management systems,” which sets out a list of customer service and internal audit requirements for organizations, companies and governments.

UNDP is now partnering with the Government of Norway to fund and implement a new nationwide anticorruption project aiming to further the cause of transparency and accountability. Already 12 municipal governments have committed to complying with international best-practice standards.

“This is the first ever comprehensive action plan to tackle corruption head on at local level,” says Goran Petrov, the mayor of Veles. “And its chances of success are all the greater because it involves people from so many sectors — not just members of the municipal council but associations of citizens, representatives of the business sector, the media and local communities.”