The Czech Republic’s position on the Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International has significantly improved in the past year. The country moved 16 rungs up the ladder to 37th place, acquiring 57 points out of a maximum possible 100. Ruth Fraňková spoke to Radim Bureš of Transparency’s Czech branch, who ascribes the improvement to steps taken by the previous centre-right coalition government of prime minister Petr Nečas:
“I would say that the key cause was the opening [freeing] of the hands of the law enforcement bodies to investigate large corruption schemes which usually had some political links and to try [to obtain] public funds.
“Among the other factors, there was quite strong pressure of the NGOs for the adoption of a number of systematic legal changes, first of all focused on the civil service act on the internet, the law on publishing contracts on the internet and currently the law on political party financing.”
Would you say that the trend is likely to continue?
“Well this is the big question mark. There are a number of laws which are currently prepared by the government and are still in the parliament, such as the law on party financing, on assets declaration, and the amendment to the conflict of interest law.
“But there is also an important psychological issue that both the government and the NGOs should convince citizens that the situation is improving, that their taxes are well used and that they can get better value for the taxes paid.
“So at the legislative and expert level and also on the public level and working with citizens will affect future results.”
The Czech Republic has obviously made a dramatic improvement, but how is it doing in the context of Central Europe?
“It must be said that the improvement is really significant but it is still far away from the average of the EU member states and Western Europe. We reached 56 points and the EU average is 67 so there is still a long way to go.
“Concerning the Visegrad Countries, it must be said that especially Poland is in the long-term better than the Czech Republic and also this year they still keep ahead of us.
“So among the V4 countries, the Czech Republic is now in the second place with Hungary and Slovakia being on the same level below the Czech Republic.”