''The less you go in the offices of officials, the less chances to get into a corruption roundabout''
Reduction of corruption risks of businesses discussed in CCI RT
''Make the communication between an entrepreneur and an official minimal, ensure digitalization of their relationship, and you will immediately see that corruption cases will decrease by 60%,'' first Vice-President of the Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises of Tatarstan Robert Zakirov suggested during the discussion of corruption risks of businesses at a round table discussion in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Tatarstan. Meanwhile, the representatives of the ministry of internal affairs highlighted a reduction in the number of its inspections by half, and the head of the centre Business Against Corruption told about the training of representatives of the supervisory authorities to communicate with entrepreneurs. Read the details in the material of Realnoe Vremya.
Cases of extortion increased among entrepreneurs
One of the reasons for the round table discussion in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Tatarstan (CCI RT) was summing up the results of the annual independent study ''Business Barometer of Corruption'' of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Russia. In 2018, it was participated by about 45,000 entrepreneurs in all 85 regions of the country. To the question: ''Do you encounter corruption in your activities and, if so, how often?'' 16,9% of the surveyed entrepreneurs said: ''Yes, constantly.''
At the same time, the most corrupt areas the entrepreneurs called obtaining permits, certificates, licenses (36,1%), control and supervision of business activities (29,5%), state and municipal procurement (25,3%), implementation of sanitary and epidemiological norms (20%), registration of real estate transactions (21,3%), initiation and investigation of criminal cases (18,8%), shutting down a business (9,7%), environmental protection (14,9%). ''At the same time, entrepreneurs for the first time highlighted a growth of corruption when shutting down a business, previously such issue did not arise in the study,'' Artur Nikolaev, the director of the Department of Entrepreneurship's Development and Support at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tatarstan, said opening the round table discussion.
Dmitry Kozlov, the head of the Department of Economic Security and Anti-corruption at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tatarstan, said that in 2018 the internal affairs bodies reduced the number of inspections of entrepreneurs by half. Over the past year, about 300 crimes with a corruption component were identified. Kozlov noted that it is not only about corruption that occurs between representatives of state bodies and entrepreneurs, but also about extortion among companies.
''We are talking about competition during public procurement. Most entrepreneurs are trying to smooth these points, and in the future it is more difficult to disclose them,'' stated the head of the department of economic security and anti-corruption at the ministry of internal affairs of the Republic of Tatarstan.
Supervisory authorities are not interested in corruption prevention
Preventive and educational work carried out among entrepreneurs and inspectors by the control and supervisory bodies should also help to reduce corruption risks. Gulnara Sergeeva, the executive co-chairman of the centre for public procedures Business Against Corruption, said that in 2016 the reform of control of supervisory activities was approved, which is aimed at preventing offenses.
''Entrepreneurs often complained about the supervisory authorities, the indicators of Tatarstan in the national rating of the investment climate dropped from the first place to the third. In this regard, at the Council on Entrepreneurship under the President of the Republic of Tatarstan in September 2018, we were instructed to train inspectors of control and supervisory bodies,'' added Sergeeva.
Entrepreneurs complained of bias on the part of supervisory authorities, lack of feedback, insufficiently clear wording in the regulations, lack of knowledge of the legislation by inspectors. The training was attended by 200 inspectors from four supervisory bodies — Rospotrebnadzor, State Alcohol Inspectorate, Ministry of Emergency Situations and the tax service. They worked with psychologists who taught proper communication with entrepreneurs.
It is interesting that during this work, the inspectors noted that the statistical reporting and ratings of control and supervisory bodies are aimed not at preventing corruption, but at increasing the involvement of entrepreneurs in administrative responsibility.
''Inspectors are afraid to apply warning messages to businessmen so that the prosecutor's office didn't accuse them of corruption communication. If there is such a message, we will never wait for the use of such punishment by the inspectors as a warning. The second problem voiced by the inspectors is a gap in the legislation and regulations of the supervisory bodies themselves. If there are no preventive measures, the number of offenses will not decrease and corruption risks and corruption relations between officials and entrepreneurs will grow,'' said the co-chairman of Business Against Corruption.
The study of the centre also revealed contradictions in the normative documentation. For example, fire safety measures of the ministry of emergency situations require that carpets in kindergartens must be attached to the floor, but Rospotrebnadzor claims that they must not be fixed for cleaning. There are many such contradictions. Sergeeva noted that Business Against Corruption centre will collect all the controversial points and report on them to the president of the republic.
She also complained about the lack of a single information platform where entrepreneurs could learn about public hearings, receive reminders about inspections of supervisory bodies. Alternatively, it could be a mobile application through which one could get consultation from supervisory authorities, learn about changes in legislation, training, etc.
Deputy Minister of Economy of the Republic of Tatarstan Ayrat Shamsiev said that such information platform has already been created by the ministry of economy together with the Prosecutor's office of the Republic of Tatarstan — it is the project ''Proven Business'' (Proverenny Biznes). ''We are currently working on the functionality. Our moderator reviews appeals of entrepreneurs, asks questions about the legality. We have registered more than 3,000 entrepreneurs. What is characteristic, more than half of them are entrepreneurs not from Tatarstan, but from the CIS,'' Shamsiev added.
Public control should be strengthened
The speech of first Vice-President of the Association of Small and Medium-sized Businesses Robert Zakirov was emotional. He noted that small and medium-sized businesses should advice state bodies on how to reduce corruption risks.
''I believe that public institutions should suggest that there are problems in this industry, and it is necessary to create regulations that would not allow officials to make decisions beneficial to them. We are grateful to the agencies for the training work, but it should be conducted not only in Kazan, but also in the districts. We used to have offsite meetings in the districts, where specialists of Rosprirodnadzor, Prosecution office, ministry of internal affairs and other agencies, which gave information on how to behave, how to avoid offences, were attracted,'' said Zakirov.
He said that small and medium-sized businesses have no protection in court. ''If they come to an entrepreneur with an inspection, according to its results they can seize his account, arrest accounting documents, computer. Then your business is dead. During a month they will consider your complaint in one instance, a month — in another, a month — in the third,'' Robert Zakirov told.
In this situation, it is needed a legislative norm, according to which the immediate appeal of the entrepreneur to the court stops the process of arresting the things, without which it is impossible to work. The courts must decide on the same day. Zakirov also urged to accelerate the development of digitalization of the sphere related to the interaction of business and authorities.
''Businessmen tell the following: 'The less you go to the offices of officials, the less chances to get into a corruption roundabout.' Make the communication between an entrepreneur and an official minimal, ensure digitalization of relations, and you will immediately see that corruption cases will decrease by 60%,'' says the first vice-president of the Association of Small and Medium-sized Businesses of the Republic of Tatarstan. ''Unfortunately, the legislation often opposes public control. We need a law that would allow public organizations to go to any institution and work together,'' concluded the speaker.
Corruption on the roads and in nursing homes
After discussion of general issues, the participants of the round table discussion moved to the private problems of entrepreneurs, and not all of them were associated with corruption. Vasily Novikov, the secretary of the city committee of the party Communists of Russia, told about the theft of pensions of disabled children in Derbeshkinskiy orphanage. ''The possibility of theft was checked by the office of the president of the Republic of Tatarstan on anti-corruption policy, and it confirmed two cases. We know more than 200 cases,'' Novikov said.
However, the theme of theft of pensions in the boarding house did not find a response from those present. The speech of Sergey Sotnikov, the head of the committee on logistics and freight road transport at the CCI RT, aroused more interest. He proposed to reduce the period of issuance of special permits for the transportation of heavy and bulky goods through the introduction of information technology. Sotnikov also raised the issue of adequacy of spring restrictions for the passage of heavy trucks on the roads of Tatarstan.
''The federal authorities have long understood the absurdity of the closure of passage, and there is a conclusion of the ministry of economic development that it harms the economy. There is also a study by the CCI that the economy is damaged by this. Unfortunately, the ministry of transport continues to insist on the existence of another method, which calculated the damage from heavy loads. It is time to reconsider the opinion,'' declared Sotnikov.