NEWS

Public sector graft uncovered

The number of complaints about graft in the public sector is rising steadily and departments that grant licenses to new businesses, as well as town-planning offices, are among the worst offenders, according to the results of an investigation due to be made public next week. The report has been compiled by the Public Administration Inspection Agency, which found that 25 percent of complaints last year were made by people trying to start new businesses, followed by gripes about the way that public sector contracts are awarded. Almost 18 percent of the complaints concerned the section of the town-planning office that deals with illegal buildings. According to the inspectors, the amount of complaints that they receive has been rising steadily over recent years. Last year, there were 768 complaints but it is expected that there will be more than 1,000 over 2009. It is believed that a decision by the Interior Ministry to set up a citizens’ complaint line (1500) has led to the rise in the number of people voicing their displeasure. In 2007, the complaints led to 119 preliminary investigations and 35 probes into the assets of civil servants. This led to 92 bureaucrats being charged. The inspectors also found that a number of local authorities (mostly municipalities) have not been following the rules on granting contracts for public works. «The exercise of power by mayors, which at times is just within legal boundaries but at other times crosses into illegality, coupled with the lack of checks, are some of the factors that fuel mismanagement in local administration,» the report states. The report comes just two weeks after it was revealed that more than 350 employees at tax and town-planning offices as well as other public sector employees could face trial for failing to adequately explain their incomes.