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It’s complicated: Parliament’s relationship with anti-corruption agencies in Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Maldives
Corruption has a negative effect on development, economic growth, and democracy. Independent Anti-Corruption Agencies (ACAs) are often recommended as the tool to curb corruption. However, the creation of such agencies is not a panacea to the scourge of corruption. In some instances, ACAs have been a disappointment and their effectiveness has been questioned. Their efficiency depends on political will to allocate authority, powers, and resources.
Given that ACAs should be independent, particularly of the government of the day, it is a country’s parliament that holds responsibility to provide them with a strong mandate, guarantees of independence, security of tenure, and to hold them accountable for their activities.
In this publication, we concentrate on the aspects of the relationship that can illuminate whether a parliament performs these responsibilities in a proper manner:
- Parliament’s role in establishing the legal framework and mandate of the ACA;
- Parliament’s role in the selection and appointment of the leadership of the ACA;
- Parliament’s role regarding resources allocated to the ACA; and
- Parliament’s consideration of and follow up to annual and other reports of the ACA.
The purpose of this publication is to highlight the constructive role of parliaments in overcoming the challenges ACAs often face. It provides an insight into parliaments’ role in contributing to combatting corruption by exercising their legislative and oversight role in support of the effectiveness of ACAs while ensuring their independence.
Although there is a rich body of literature on parliaments and an increasing number of research publications on anti-corruption agencies, surprisingly little has been written on the relations between these two actors, particularly in the Asian context. For this study, three Asian countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Maldives – have been selected, among others, because they have the same type of ACA: a comprehensive multi-purpose ACA. The main difference between them is whether they have been given a prosecution function or not. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of Pakistan and the Indonesian Commission for the Eradication of Corruption (KPK) do have a prosecution function, while the Anti-Corruption Commission of the Maldives does not.
In analysing parliament’s relationship with the ACAs in Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Maldives, we took note, firstly, that all three ACAs have a strong legal foundation and a clear mandate, though the degree of their independence varies. In all three countries, the leadership of the ACA is ultimately appointed by the President, although following different parliamentary procedures. We noted considerable fluctuations in annual budget allocations. However, in all three cases, the parliamentary follow-up to the ACAs’ reports is the weakest part of the overall relationship between parliaments and ACAs. Parliaments discuss ACAs’ reports only sporadically, with little if any substantial parliamentary conclusions or follow-up.
Parliaments in the three countries have an opportunity for investing more time and efforts in establishing regular and structured relationships with the ACA. This means going beyond parliament’s legislative function and demonstrating that parliaments are fully invested in anticorruption campaigns, by discussing ACAs’ reports, making sure the ACAs have an optimal budget, and by providing public backing to the ACA work.
Recognising the need for a high level of political maturity, parliamentary support for the work of the ACA can play a meaningful role in any national anti-corruption strategy. The analysis in the three cases of Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Maldives is based upon the WFDs’s recently published comprehensive assessment framework on the relationship between parliaments and ACAs.
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