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    • Serbia has made progress in fighting corruption in defence, but some concerning trends remain to be addressed

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    • Date: 03 December 2015
      Transparency International published the results for Serbia in the framework of the second round of the Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index survey encompassing more than 100 countries. This index measures risks of corruption in national defence and security establishments. The risk assessment for Serbia was carried out in cooperation with Belgrade Centre for Security Policy.

      Serbia has scored 148 out of maximum 284 points, which poses an improvement in comparison to 2013, when it scored 121/280 points. Hence, Serbia advanced from the band D - high risk of corruption to the band C - moderate risk of corruption. Some of the other countries in this band are France, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bulgaria. The best ranked countries, with very low corruption risk, are the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

      In comparison to the previous survey, conducted 2012-2013, Serbia has made a step forward in the fields of finances and procurement. This was particularly facilitated by introduction of programme budgeting and new anti-corruption mechanisms foreseen by the new law on public procurement.

      Weak internal control and non-transparent management of defence industry pose the main risks

      On the other hand, the main risks of corruption stem from

      • Weak internal control, led by the Military Security Agency rather than Defence Inspectorate, meaning that the fight against corruption is still understood as investigation of corruption allegations rather than prevention;
      • Lack of comprehensive asset records;
      • Non-transparent management of defence industry;
      • Extensive discretionary powers of commanding officers in human resource management, which may facilitate nepotism and hamper selection of the best personnel.

      Furthermore, parliamentary oversight of MoD's financial management is limited as the budget proposals are regularly submitted too late to be discussed by MPs. The Defence and Internal Affairs Committee has not deliberated any report by the State Audit Institutions yet.

      Whereas procedures for preventing corruption in procurement are in place, mechanisms for reviewing and enhancing procurement performance still need to be strengthened. At the moment, the fact that the defence White Paper (Strategijski pregled odbrane) is classified prevents the public from scrutinising whether defence spending is made in accordance with the MoD’s strategic commitments.

      Recommendations for reforms

      Based on this research, BCSP recommends the following reforms to advance anti-corruption efforts within the MoD and the Serbian Armed Forces (SAF) are to:

      1. Publish the redacted version of the defence White Paper;
      2. Strengthen the position of the Defence Inspectorate as the main internal control body responsible for scrutinising implementation of anti-corruption measures;
      3. Complete the asset inventory;
      4. Increase transparency of defence industry management by publishing acts regulating relations between the MoD and defence industry. It is also important for companies declared to belong to Serbian defence industry to publish information about their managerial structures and financial management.
      5. Advance human resource management by introducing promotional boards and mechanisms outside the chain of command which would oversee promotion and assignment to posts.

      Politicisation is a worrying trend

      Significant risks are related to politisation of the SAF, which unfortunately increased in the previous period. The military police has been found to protect relatives of high state officials even though they are not entitled to such protection. The control by the Ombudsman was effectively disrupted by the Minister of Defence. The military helicopter crash in March was apparently brought about by circumvention of - generally good and well-developed- procedures due to political pressure. The Minister of Defence has recently proclaimed that the military's task was to protect the Prime Minister, despite the fact this is not provided either in the legislation or in the strategic documents defining what the SAF's missions are. Hence, the first priority for the MoD and the SAF is to build resilience against undue political influence.

      For further information on Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index and the overall results please contact Ms Eva Anderson, Project Manager at Transparency International Defence and Security, at: eva.anderson@transparency.org.uk, or Dominic Kavakeb, Communications Manager, at dominic.kavakeb@transparency.org.uk or T: +44 20 3096 7695
      For further information on Serbia please contact Belgrade Centre for Security Policy at office@bezbednost.org or T: +381 11 3287 226
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