By Atom Markarian
The Armenian government at last approved on Thursday its promised plan to tackle rampant corruption which has been drawn up with financial support and strong encouragement from the World Bank.
The government said ordinary Armenians’ involvement will be critical for the program’s successful implementation, but avoided immediately making it public. Officials promised to make its content available soon.
“The government realizes the extent of the danger posed by corruption and regards it as a social evil,” the chief of its staff, Manuk Topuzian, told journalists. He said the aim of the document is to “reduce, if not uproot” corrupt practices that are commonplace in virtually all state structures in Armenia.
A separate government statement said the anti-corruption strategy deals with politics, the state bureaucracy, law-enforcement agencies and the judiciary, involving a specific “program of actions” for each of those spheres. The statement claimed that the authorities have already done a lot to tackle the problem by enacting a package of laws designed to minimize the possibility of government abuse in recent years.
Work on the document began two years ago after the World Bank provided a $345,000 grant to its authors. It is said to have undergone major changes in the last two months at the insistence of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), a junior partner in Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s coalition government formed in June. Dashnaktsutyun leaders strongly criticized its undisclosed initial version in September.
The program’s approval should pave the way for the release of more loans to Armenia from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund which consider graft a serious hindrance to the country’s economic development. The two institutions showed recently signs of frustration with the repeated delays in its publication.
The Armenian opposition, meanwhile, is highly skeptical about the success of the effort, claiming that the country’s leaders are themselves corrupt and therefore disinterested in the rule of law.