Governments are threatened by their “corruption”

government corruption

Governments are threatened by their “corruption”

According to the definition found in various references “Autocratic leadership is a management style where one person / group of people controls all decisions and receives very little input from other group members. “Autocratic leaders make choices or decisions based on their beliefs and do not include in the decision-making process the suggestions or advice of others outside the perimeter of their loyal people.”

This type of leadership style is effective only where the nature of the work requires quick results. The sole responsibility for the decision and the outcome lies with the leader. It is a flexible action style, but some will argue that it is outdated now.

In fact, the focus of this analysis is not iron-hand (autocratic) leadership, because is not this the debate in countries / organizations where this model of governance happens to be applied. Nor do we have to be obsessed and point the finger at who the autocrats are, as this is not new to us who willingly or unwillingly accept this leadership model. What we want to analyze is that such an approach has been shown to be closely linked to stimulating corruption, as well as opening up many possibilities for state capture.

There is a form of corruption, less known, but still very widespread, often found, but not exclusively in developing countries, and that is state capture. State capture occurs when the ruling elite and / or powerful businessmen manipulate policymaking and influence new rules of the game (including economic laws and regulations) to their advantage. The captive economy is stuck in a vicious circle, in which the policies and institutional reforms needed to improve governance are undermined by cooperation between powerful firms and state officials that derive significant private benefits from a lack of clear rule of law. State capture can be further refined by distinguishing between the types of institutions subject to capture (Legislature, Executive, Judiciary, Regulatory Agencies, Independent Institutions, Civil Society, Trade Unions, Business Organizations) and types of actors actively seeking capture (large private businesses, political leaders, senior officials, interest groups).

For example, large businesses that have taken over the most of public resources get additional advantages not only in the form of growing the business to dizzying values ​​in just a few years, but also in providing public goods, such as property rights, by purchasing individualized protections of their property rights by the state. This however comes at a considerable social cost. If politicians and bureaucrats can minimize their political risks by privately selling such public goods to some individual businesses in exchange for economic revenue, they have little incentive to provide the public with open access to these public resources. Therefore, the level of uncertainty of property rights is much higher for medium and small businesses, as well as for the ordinary citizen.

State capture and corruption are becoming more powerful, as one reason is the inherited economic and social environment. Another reason that affects the first is that our governments in the last three decades have undertaken partial economic reforms, or have left in the middle / stopped even those that have started as deep and complete reforms at the beginning of mandates, from which have produced  distortions in local market and thus have generated a pattern of concentrated profits and distributed losses in the short run. A small group of people given this corruption of political will, over the years have been able to generate significant revenue from these distortions and blockages of reforms. Such distortions include, for example, the lack of timely investment and non-resolving the financial stalemates of powerful public enterprises (Energy, oil), or new laws designed to favor particular economic actors in a particular sector in at the expense of free and fair competition for all (special laws / acts in the energy sector and infrastructure, finance, education, health, environment and tourism). The concentration of economic and political power is likely to lead to serious seizures of the state, which seems to be running parallel to a weak civil society.

Therefore, transparent governance reforms are very necessary to better divide power in society, horizontally and vertically, as well as to establish very clear rules of conflict of interest, applicable and directly monitored by the public with “eyes and ears ”Of civil society and the involvement of the best local expertise.

A vocal civil society, provided fundamental civil liberties are ensured, would show shortcomings in governance, demand better accountability and response from the government. In such difficult contexts, the feasibility of any kind of governance reforms must be assessed against the background of the power relations and beneficial behavior of the various actors involved. Any reform to improve the institutional, economic, or political framework, which may undermine the stakeholder concentrated advantages, is likely to be strongly opposed by them, as has been the case so far.

A crucial way to bring to light corruption and wrongdoing would be through detection by whistleblowers by public and private entities. Unfortunately for whistleblowers, in a stifling environment like Albania, this mechanism means risking their careers. Many potential witnesses and sources of information do not act because the system does not provide them with sufficient support and protection. This scheme has not worked, as it seeks to be harmonized with other elements that are lacking in the fight against corruption, related to trust in government and politics in general, including independent institutions, which in any case are part of the  political market and not really  with integrity in confront this market.

But how is the cycle of corruption in the last two decades?

During the first two years of the transition after the mandate of the Nano 4 government (2002-2005), political corruption in Albania seemed to decrease somewhat[1]. The government was not the center of corruption as was the case in the previous government term. The same cycle happened with the government “Rama 1”, which in the period 2013 – 2017 was perceived by citizens with a declining trend of corruption.

After the June 2017 elections, as well as after the new government was formed, corruption and state capture began to grow, a trend that has continued for the past two and a half years. The extent of political corruption is confirmed by the report of the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) 2021 “Deconstructing State Capture in Albania: An Examination of Grand Corruption Cases and Tailor-Made Laws from 2008 to 2020”[2].

Albanian citizens’ perceptions of corruption coincide with the results of the research of the IDM report, as part of Transparency International (TI). The data show that the citizens of Albania think that corruption is widespread and that it has increased in the last two years. This indicator, of course, has its impact on the criteria related to the opening of talks for membership in EU[3], , resulting in the fact that the conditions are not considered met as long as we have such a level of corruption, at least for the years when the talks are expected to open.

Meanwhile, the aggravated climate towards domestic business[4], but also the disoriented fiscal policy coincide with the other criterion related to the need of fulfillment before the opening of membership talks.

Because in the meantime are not valid exclusively the statements of the government, but also those of business organizations, independent experts, as well as civil society, which have a unison of position and statements that does not converge with the official position and statements of the government on these topics and others related to the regulatory aspect.

Following the change of government in 2018, there was a shift in priorities that led to an older form of government, expressed in political / party control of the police, security intelligence agency, written and online media returning party / loyal political leaders to positions main central institutions.

While the first “Rama 1” government focused ambitiously and enthusiastically on enabling Albania to integrate into the EU as soon as possible, enthusiasm for the EU integration process waned as the “Rama 2” government amplified the model of full ownership of institutions and every vital aspect leaving little room for valuable criticism and opposition from civil society, experts and business organizations and unions.

Despite the western values, the government “Rama 2” has set the commitment for EU integration in a tedious, not at all attractive communication, as well as already accompanying it with critical marks towards the European leadership.

The “Rama 2” government, which can be considered as the post-transition government, continued with the adoption of a number of anti-corruption acts, aiming to strengthen a tendency towards improving Albania’s position in the outcome of the IT assessment. This grade is still very low and indicates endemic corruption. A comparison with other countries in the region that have already opened talks, shows that the best are Serbia with 38 points, Montenegro with 45 points, while Albania with 36 points, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Northern Macedonia with 35 points have mostly bad positions . Albania is in the lower half of the 6 countries of the Western Balkans. This rank is only slightly better than the worst and basically worse than the best places.

Although the SP government has enacted a number of laws that have had an effect on the country’s assessment, appropriate institutional reforms have not yet provided the guarantee to ensure accountability, transparency, the rule of law, public sector effectiveness, and the appointment of grassroots positions on meritocracy.

The implementation of some laws has been delayed, both due to the non-fulfillment of the full legal framework for implementation, but also due to their forced adoption and to meet the “quantity” (de jure fulfillment of the criteria for opening the dialogue for EU membership) . But overall, the level of law enforcement has not brought about the targeted change that should have happened not as if by magic in a day or two, but day after day, month after month and year after year.

Insufficient encouragement has been given to the competitiveness of the economic and political system. The management of large public companies has not yet achieved to function fully in the public interest and based on the terms of a management model recommended by international organizations (WB, OECD, EBRD).

The weakening of the orientation towards good international experiences in recent years has been accompanied by the reconstruction of the mechanisms of state capture by the political and business elite[5]. The two elites, in a symbiosis with each other have been able to “take control” of state institutions, to exert great influence and accumulate considerable wealth, which although denounced and manage to pass the tests of the organs of charges continue to increase rather than to be in decrease. As a result, the chain of redistribution of values ​​and welfare has been broken, although on average it has increased as a statistic. In fact, this situation has further polarized the society in the possession of property by increasing on areas where their owners are residents, mainly in the capital[6].   The phenomenon of state capture,  reinforced in this last decade has been responsible for the large-scale corruption and seriously endangers in every time the public interest.

Although the transition in the economic sector has reached its finals, the construction of political, judicial, and administrative institutions has been delayed / blocked / failed. This negative development has created the possibility of capturing the state with greater speed, just at the time when people are expecting results from the process of vetting.

Management the public activities and sources with iron fist (internal order and security, economy, infrastructure, and finance, where real power lies) is in fact a system of exchange of services and interests between the opposition / governing parties (and their financiers). hidden) based on mutual blackmail for corruption. This system we are living in corrupts the main state institutions through the empowerment of certain ministries by increasing their power (Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy, Ministry of Finance and Economy). In this way they gain great unsupervised authority for a governing mandate and further their size changes again by introducing into the labyrinths of not taking out real responsibility and monitoring their activity in real time.

Given what has happened, it is no exaggeration to say that the government is threatened by its “corruption”.


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