There is nothing left to steal in the Ukrainian budget, so the money gets stolen while it is still on its way to the state treasury, says Vitalii Shabunin
On Friday, November 23, at the 2nd Youth Kyiv Security Forum, the representatives from Ukraine, Georgia, and Pakistan spoke about the corruption situation in their countries. Based on the report made by Ashraf Ali, the President of FATA Research Center, Pakistan, the corruption problem is the most acute in their country. Mr Ali assured the audience that 7 billion rupees (USD 65 million) from the national budget falls into the pockets of the state officials every day.
“Corruption is a unique phenomenon, present in every country. The only difference is the amount of misappropriated funds. In Pakistan, this is an astonishing figure. All of our country’s institutions are corrupt: the press, the parliament, and the army. And the corruption enforcement agency is the most corrupt institution of all. Our former Prime Minister is accused of stealing 1 billion rupees. The former President stole 6 billion,” said Ashraf Ali regarding the situation in Pakistan.
According to the Pakistani representatives, the people in his country are losing their trust in the state institutions. “They are reluctant to pay taxes, because the money is going to be stolen anyway. They would rather keep this money for a ‘rainy day’. For instance, if a relative of mine is kidnapped, I am not going to get any help either from the police or the prosecutor’s office; whereas I could use the concealed money to pay the ransom and save the person dear to me,” he said, explaining the views of his fellow citizens.
Vitalii Shabunin, the Head of the Board of Anticorruption Action Center, Kyiv, assured his colleague that the situation in Ukraine is not much better. “There is so little money in the budget that there is nothing to steal, so the money gets stolen as soon as it is on its way to the state treasury. Our organization alone interrupted UAH 1,100 thousand in unlawful procurements. Remember Lazarenko, for instance. There is over USD 100 million currently frozen on his offshore bank accounts.”
The Georgian delegate, Giorgi Kldiashvili, the Director of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, on the other hand, is satisfied with the significant improvement of the corruption situation in his country. “In 2006, Georgia was on the last but one place among the 102 countries listed by the size of ‘shadow economy’. Today, we are on the top 10 of the leading countries by anti-corruption efforts,” said Mr Kldiashvili.
The Georgian representative also believes that the society should fight any signs of corruption. The Pakistani delegate agreed with Mr Kldiashvili. Ashraf Ali believes that the solution to this problem is to increase the salaries of vulnerable population groups, policemen, and other citizens, who work hard only to earn a tiny wage.” “In our country, a policeman working under harsh conditions gets a salary of only 10 thousand rupees, while they have bills to pay and children to feed. No wonder they become corrupt as soon as they get an opportunity. We need to prevent corruption, to warn people through the mass media that any offenders will be prosecuted,” said Mr Ali.
Vitalii Shabunin expressed an opinion that it is the most important to prosecute those who turn a blind eye to the corruption. “Each prosecution officer or judge who spares a corrupt official must pay for their act. As soon as one perpetrator is punished, the next one would be afraid to steal,” said Mr Shabunin, summarizing the conference.
Youth Kyiv Security Forum (Youth KSF) is an initiative of the Open Ukraine Foundation intended to create a site for young experts from various countries to discuss relevant issues of international relations and Ukraine’s foreign policy. The main goal of the Forum is to strengthen the role of the new generation of experts and improve their capability to participate in the process of political analysis and development. The Youth Forum is held in the partnership with the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation (project of the Marshall Fund of the US) and the NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Ukraine.
More information on the project is available at: http://ksf.openukraine.org/
The Open Ukraine Foundation is an international non-profit Foundation established by Arsenii Yatseniuk to strengthen public democracy and promote the prestige of Ukraine in the world. The Foundation is advancing towards its goals by implementing its key programs: International Dialogue, Cultural Horizons, and Young Leaders. The Foundation is an organization of a large number of benefactors, gathering people who care about Ukraine’s authority and future.
More details about the Foundation are available at: http://openukraine.org