Corruption in Argentina is one of the biggest challenges currently facing the country. It is estimated that corruption cost the Argentine economy over US$6.2 billion between 1990-2013. The social and economic impact of corruption in the country is huge, especially affecting the quality and efficiency of public services, such as education, health and transportation. In 2012 52 people died in a train crash as a result of neglect and corruption.
Argentina ranks 107 out of 175 in Transparency International´s Corruption Perceptions Index, far behind its neighbouring countries, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil.
Recently elected President Mauricio Macri said in his inauguration speech that he “will be implacable with corruption”. He has made the fight against corruption a top priority for his administration. In order to fulfill this promise the new government must urgently implement laws and reforms to improve transparency, accountability and oversight of public institutions.
Poder Ciudadano, our chapter in Argentina, together with three more civil society organisations, has developed a “Transparency Agenda 2016”: 12 concrete recommendations that the newly elected government should implement to strengthen democracy and fight corruption in the county. They should serve as a roadmap for anti-corruption progress.
The Transparency Agenda 2016 is a starting point for the much needed strengthening of democratic institutions in Argentina. It shows the need to consolidate accountability instruments in order to improve citizen participation and tackle corruption. - Pablo Secchi, Poder Ciudadano’s Executive Director
Of the 12 recommendations, the most urgent measure is to approve an access to information law in line with international standards. The law should ensure the participation of diverse sectors of the society, the creation of an autonomous entity responsible to monitor the law, and the implementation of active transparency policies, including the production of public information in an accessible, open and reusable format.
Without free access to public information, citizens cannot exercise effective government oversight and control or hold public officials accountable for their actions. It is considered to be a “gateway right” that ensures access to other fundamental human rights such as the right to health, education, housing, among others.
Other core recommendations include strengthening the judiciary to improve the checks and balances system in government and to end impunity for corruption; enhancing control mechanisms, such as the Anti-Corruption Agency, the General Comptroller and the Ombudsman; and improving hiring practices of public officials.
Throughout 2016 the organisations will monitor and report on the progress that is being done on each recommendation.
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