Russia to use property database to fight corruption

Corruption is a way of life for many Russians at every level of society.

Russia to use property database to fight corruption

Russia will up the fight against corruption with a special electronic property database allowing officials to see more easily what people own, Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov told Reuters on Saturday.

Konovalov is one of the closest allies of President Dmitry Medvedev, who has said he will target corruption to ensure stability and high rates of economic growth. Foreign investors say rampant corruption is one of Russia's biggest problems.

"There already is a database on what property people own but we are talking about streamlining it to make it easier to use and see what people own by synchronising what different agencies and ministries already have," Konovalov said in an interview at the St Petersburg Economic Forum, Russia's main investor event.

Asked about levels of corruption, he said: "It is an approximate science to say when there is more or less but when business activity rises there are more economic relations and so perhaps this has risen."

CORRUPTION IS A WAY OF LIFE

Corruption is a way of life for many Russians at every level of society -- from small bribes paid to traffic policemen or schools to kick-backs paid to senior officials who hold sway over major decisions affecting business and the economy.

Analysts say the electronic property base is important as it would allow officials to see exactly what people -- including corrupt bureaucrats -- own and pinpoint discrepancies between declared income and property.

Tax services in Europe use such databases to pinpoint tax evasion and corruption.

Medvedev has targeted corruption as one of his key policies since taking office last month after Vladimir Putin stepped down.

Kremlin leaders have repeatedly started anti-corruption drives in the past with little impact and foreign investors say privately that bribe-taking has soared in recent years as Russia's economy has boomed.

Russia tied at 143rd place with Indonesia, Gambia and Togo in 2007 global survey of corruption perceptions by Berlin-based Transparency International.

Konovalov said corruption existed in all societies but said the Russian authorities would work to root out corruption.

"This is an ongoing process and we are going to work on it," he said.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 07 Haziran 2008, 15:42
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