What is the role of the CNC in the anti-corruption strategy? 

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By LatAm Reports Editor

Bernardo Arévalo arrived at the Executive with an anti-corruption narrative. A month after assuming, he amended a previous government body to become the National Commission against Corruption (CNC), and appointed lawyer Santiago Palomo as executive director. 

This commission has accompanied the filing of public complaints of irregularities found in the executive units; however, the scope of the cross-cutting entity in the 14 ministries is not yet clear.

On the one hand it is assured that it is a technical instance, but on the other the CNC is the one that gives the approval to what findings should be made public and which were denounced, as well as at what point should be done.

No one in the Executive can act on their own about a corruption complaint if the commission does not approve it, sources close to the Presidency highlight.

The official purpose of the CNC indicates that the objective is the implementation of policies in institutions to prevent acts of corruption, through mechanisms, transparency standards and a code of ethics.

Are there successful international experiences that somehow underpinned the work of the Commission. There are close and effective cases, such as the National Anti-Corruption System in Mexico, and the National Anti-Corruption Strategy in Chile, was the official response of the CNC through its communication team, since it declined the commissioner to offer an interview.

On the part of the Executive, the CNC is composed of the President of the Republic, the Ministers of Finance and the Interior, the Secretary General of Planning, the National Civil Service Office and the Open and Electronic Government Commission.

The six CEOs are two members of civil society, two from indigenous groups and two from the private sector, all appointed for one year with the possibility of holding office for one more year.

The great objective in the medium term of the Commission is to design and propose the creation of a National Anti-Corruption System that will allow for an independent, objective and robust legal and institutional framework,” said the CNC.

María del Carmen Aceña, an analyst at the Center for National Economic Research (Cien), said that the priorities should be to reform laws such as Purchase and Recruitment and that of the Civil Service, and ensure that they are complied with.

“Having an anti-corruption commission has been the mistake of previous governments,” he questioned.

Here he showed that it is difficult for one instance of the Executive to point out another of the same body, and that it will be a challenge to see how the cases they have presented to the frictions with the MP progress.

Expectation

Among the councillors is the treasurer of the 48 cantons of Totonicapán, Ana Alicia Alvarado, who considers that the role in the CNC is one of the spaces that the ancestral peoples have demanded from the government.

He added that he will concentrate on verifying and advising on the issues that are possible, and although as a councillor they would have a vote on decision-making, they cannot do so for the autonomy of the 48 cantons.

As indigenous peoples, we are only under observation, vigilant that good management can be given to the situations, Alvarado said, adding that the results of the CNC will be in the long term, but could begin to be observed in the first six months.

Daniel Haering, representative of civil society, of the Diálogos association, said they were taken into account because in 2022 they were part of a technical table in the Congress led by Arévalo, on which work was done on the shared anti-corruption agenda.

The CNC will be used as a method of consultation by the Executive. For example, before submitting a bill, it should be sent for consultation. In addition, counselors can propose agendas and open the doors to the citizenry to participate.

I think there’s an agenda for reform of the civilian service system on how it is contracted, and that it is for meritocracy.

There is also an envelope of final beneficiaries. The country needs a law of final beneficiaries, which requires that there be a record of the names of the people behind the companies, the oenegens, the trusts, so that we know who the final beneficiary is, he said.

He also pointed out that it is not the responsibility of counsellors to report corruption or investigate cases, although they are in the possibility of pointing out any anomalies if it were to be known.

What the Commission can do is ensure that all institutions have mechanisms for detecting and reporting corruption, he concluded. 

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in Prensa Libre