Transparency International (TI) Georgia: Signs of Nepotism in Public Service

Non-governmental organization Transparency International (TI) Georgia studied the asset declarations of public officials and identified cases when their family members are employed in the same agency, related administrative agencies or sub-agencies. Most cases were found in local authorities, but similar cases have been revealed in the central government and judiciary field.

The NGO says that questions occur when the family members of some officials, who had no prior experience as civil servants, were employed right after said officials took their posts.

TI study revealed more than 350 such cases in different regions of Georgia, noting that this may be a sign of nepotism and conflicts of interest.

The study revealed that in the local government, it is common for public servants to hire family members after being appointed to a managerial position.

“There are cases when family members of officials work in the same agency, violating the Law on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Institutions, except in cases of competition,” TI said.

The NGO added that there are often cases in the judicial system where family members of judges work in the same system, and in some cases in the same district court.

TI stressed that the tendency to employ family members in the public service has also been revealed in the Parliament of Georgia.

“All MPs whose family members are employed in the public service are members of the parliamentary majority,” the organization said.

TI also underlined that the mentioned cases do not necessarily imply that all people affiliated with the officials have been employed in public service by bypassing or violating the competition rules and it also does not question the professionalism of particular persons.

“However, given the shortcomings in the enforcement of anti-corruption legislation in Georgia, the number of such cases indicates the existence of a systemic problem and the need for an effective response,” the NGO said.

The results of recent sociological surveys show that a significant portion of the population lacks confidence in the process of employment in the public service.

The research conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC) commissioned by TI Georgia in February-March 2019, revealed that 59% of respondents believe abuse of power by public officials is widespread. Among those who believe that abuse of power is widespread, 91% believe that officials use their position to employ family members, relatives, and friends.

According to a CRRC Georgia survey released by Open Society Georgia in April 2019, 68.8% of respondents believe that relatives of ministers will be employed in public service more easily than a candidate with professional skills and knowledge.

The survey shows that 53% of respondents think corruption is widespread in ministries. Among those, 63% believe that corruption is a form of nepotism, with 51% saying that corruption is widespread in local governments and 59% referring to nepotism. Moreover, 47% of respondents believe that corruption is widespread in the courts, while 49% claim there is nepotism there.

To note, in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2018, released by Transparency International in late January, Georgia leads Eastern Europe and Central Asia countries with a score of 58.

Georgia has advanced its score by two points since last year, taking 41st place among 180 countries. In the ranking, 100 points indicate the lowest level of perceived corruption while 0 – the highest.

Georgia’s CPI scores during the recent years are: 2012 – 52 points, 2013 – 49, 2014 and 2015 – 52, in 2016 Georgia was placed 44th with a score of 57 and in 2017 – 56 points and 46th place.

By Tea Mariamidze

21 October 2019 18:16