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Ivan Mistrík "Connection" Magazine Editor
 
 
 

Joining forces to fight corruption

According to reports of the EU as well as domestic polls, corruption ranks among the most significant problems effecting ordinary citizens as well as the business environment, including foreign investors, in Slovakia.

The results of the 2014 Special EU Eurobarometer alone suggest that 90% of Slovak respondents believe that corruption is widespread in their country (EU average: 76%). Over half of the respondents think that the abuse of positions for personal gain and giving or taking bribes are widespread in courts, political parties and in the public health sector.

Several initiatives aim to address this situation, such as AmCham’s Rule of Law Initiative, the Business Compliance Network, the private Stop Corruption Foundation, as well as several NGO projects and activities, including those undertaken by Fair Play Alliance, Via Iuris, Institute for Public Affairs and others. In 2012, the Pontis Foundation established the Fund for Transparent Slovakia, led by the Business Leaders Forum in Slovakia.

The establishment of the Fund can be perceived as an important signal of the business community of the necessity to provide long-term support to watchdogs and analytical institutions. Such support is important as these institutions and their representatives are the ones holding the public institutions accountable. Additionally, very often it is their data and analysis that the media rely on to monitor and detect corrupt conduct, and subsequently help to exert public pressure to have consequences drawn for major transgressors. 

Due to their focus on sensitive issues as well as the effort to remain independent, they face worsened access to funding in comparison with other NGOs. Given the urgent need to increase trust in democratic institutions, to detect the causes of limited law enforcement or of the overpriced contracts in public sector, many of these projects were supported by the Fund.
 


Thomas Hejcman, VSE Holding

  • “RWE Group, like many other investors in Slovakia, appreciates the advantageous geographical position and quality of human capital. A stable regulatory environment, created over the past ten years, still attracts many foreign investments. However, we are witnessing unjust sentences, unequal opportunities and weaknesses in law enforcement. Therefore, we did not hesitate to join the Fund for Transparent Slovakia to support reputable non-governmental organizations that not only highlight legal loopholes but create social pressure to detect corrupt behavior and inefficient management in the country.”

Magdaléna Dobišová, Skanska

  • “Not many industries in Slovakia have such a damaged reputation as the construction business and the reality of the year 2015 has shown the criticism is not unjustified. The current situation has a destructive impact on the whole construction industry, even though its reasons don’t have to be connected to all the companies and all the people doing business in construction. At Skanska, we are trying to take this situation as a challenge to prove that it is possible to do construction business ethically, in a transparent way, without unnecessary speculations and in compliance with good morals. Through the Fund for Transparent Slovakia we clearly support those who are convinced that fighting against corruption and monitoring the public space is crucial for the development of the whole society, both now and in the future.”

Radovan Palla, Taylor Wessing

  • “At Taylor Wessing, we are convinced that Slovakia has reached a stage when it is crucial that important players in the market actively endorse values of civil society. Otherwise, renunciation of corrupting practices and transparency remain empty and, for many, even naive proclamations that will not take deeper roots allowing to create a widely accepted norm. We cannot rely on external “aid” in these matters anymore and, anyway, it could never be enough. We have joined and actively participate in the Fund for Transparent Slovakia exactly because it is a platform bringing together strong companies that care where they conduct business and are not afraid to speak up.”

Zuzana Remrová, GSK

  • “GSK Slovakia operates in Slovakia. Taking into consideration also deMiclén Levice, we employ almost 700 people in all regions of Slovakia. It means that we really care about the environment we operate in. The pharma industry is spending public finance and we are part of this industry. Personally, as General Manager of GSK Slovakia, I really do care about compliance not only with laws but also with a more comprehensive code of conduct embracing a broader ethical context of the healthcare environment covering different ways of interactions between the public and the private sector.”

Peter Škodný, Accenture

  • “What bothers us, and this doesn’t apply only to Slovakia but every other country, is an absence of clear guidelines, lack of transparency and tolerance towards corruption. Enforcement of law for everyone and the availability of talent are what we care about. If these two things don’t work, most people decide to leave. When we look at other post-communist countries in the region, there are countries where the elite has left. That is also why we are interested in motivating people to stay in Slovakia.”

Pontis Foundation

 

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