USAID Supported 25 Municipalities and Independent Oversight Bodies to Step Up Their Fight Against Corruption

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USAID Supported 25 Municipalities and Independent Oversight Bodies to Step Up Their Fight Against Corruption
Chief of Party of USAID's Government Accountability Initiative addresses the audience

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Belgrade –On January 19, 2022, US Agency for International Development (USAID) marked the successful implementation and completion of its 4-year, $8.5 million Government Accountability Initiative with its partners. The project supported government efforts to strengthen accountability and reinforce the fight against corruption at the national and local levels. The project supported accountable governance at all levels, by working with local self-governments, independent state bodies and specialized anti-corruption departments in courts and public prosecutor’s offices

The Initiative helped 25 local governments to strengthen transparency, accountability, and public inclusion in decision-making processes. Local capacities to combat corruption have been fostered through support for developing and implementing of local anticorruption plans, establishing independent monitoring bodies to monitor, as well as strengthening capacities for whistleblower protection. Transparency of local counterparts has been significantly improved through more informative and accessible websites and strategic communications with the public, among other measures, resulting in an average local transparency index scores that are ten percentage points higher than the national average. A variety of mechanisms for public inclusion in local decision-making processes have been developed, including those enabling youth participation.

“Our 25 partner local governments showed their determination to build transparency at the local level, consistently improving their rankings on the annual Local Transparency Index and are among the top performing Serbian municipalities…Together with these municipalities we targeted youth, giving 25,000 students in elementary and high schools the opportunity to practice participatory governance,” said USAID Serbia Mission Director Susan Fritz at the close-out event.

The Initiative helped bolster the capacities of independent oversight institutions, such as State Audit Institution, the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection to fulfil their respective mandates, to improve their performance, enhance accountability of public officials, and support citizens’ access to information “.

The Initiative also supported the specialized anti-corruption court units of the Higher Courts and public prosecutors’ offices helping them focus on the use of forensics to pursue corruption cases. It helped develop the Practicum for Investigation and Adjudication of Corruption Offences offering a procedural guide for investigators, public prosecutors and judges on innovative ways to pursue corruption cases and financial crimes. Creation and delivery of an Electronic Register of Corruption Cases to support information sharing between prosecutors and courts will contribute to Serbia’s improved response to EU Accession Action Plan.

“Parliamentary cooperation of the National Assembly committees with Independent Oversight Institutions, through their reporting to MPs, and continuous monitoring of their work, is of great importance for the citizens of Serbia. Good examples of practice and cooperation between the Finance Committee and the SAI at meetings in the cities and municipalities of Serbia with a wide public presence is a demonstration of citizen's involvement in all important issues, ‘ said Ms. Aleksandra Tomić, President of the Finance, State Budget and Public Expenditure Control Committee of the Parliament“.

Ms. Maja Mačužić Puzić, State Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government said: “Local self-governments are the key link when it comes to provision of services to the citizens and businesses. The successful implementation of the Initiative is a good example that strengthening local self-governments and reforming the administration into a high quality, more professional, modern, faster and more efficient service for citizens and businesses remain high on the list of our priorities“.

The Initiative also supported the specialized anti-corruption court units of the Higher Courts and public prosecutors’ offices helping them focus on the use of forensics to pursue corruption cases. It helped develop the Practicum for Investigation and Adjudication of Corruption Offences offering a procedural guide for investigators, public prosecutors and judges on innovative ways to pursue corruption cases and financial crimes. Creation and delivery of an Electronic Register of Corruption Cases to support information sharing between prosecutors and courts will contribute to Serbia’s improved response to EU Accession Action Plan.

“Parliamentary cooperation of the National Assembly committees with Independent Oversight Institutions, through their reporting to MPs, and continuous monitoring of their work, is of great importance for the citizens of Serbia. Good examples of practice and cooperation between the Finance Committee and the SAI at meetings in the cities and municipalities of Serbia with a wide public presence is a demonstration of citizen's involvement in all important issues, ‘ said Ms. Aleksandra Tomić, President of the Finance, State Budget and Public Expenditure Control Committee of the Parliament“.

Ms. Maja Mačužić Puzić, State Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government said: “Local self-governments are the key link when it comes to provision of services to the citizens and businesses. The successful implementation of the Initiative is a good example that strengthening local self-governments and reforming the administration into a high quality, more professional, modern, faster and more efficient service for citizens and businesses remain high on the list of our priorities“.

Last updated: May 27, 2022

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