The Chambers President’s Conference provides an excellent opportunity for business community leaders to focus on a single key agenda point – how to advocate for business-friendly policy reforms – This is the only such event in Pakistan that brings business community leaders together under one roof for intense and constructive discussions.” – Manzar Khurshid Shaikh, President, Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce & Industry
For the fifth year in a row, on February 25-26, 2013, leaders of Pakistan’s business community assembled at Bhurban near Islamabad to participate at the Fifth All Pakistan Chamber Presidents Conference. Thirty-three chamber presidents representing large and small chambers from across Pakistan deliberated on how the next government should act on improving conditions for doing business in Pakistan. The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry spearheads this event in collaboration with CIPE Pakistan.
This year’s conference was unique as, for the first time in this history of Pakistan, representatives from five key political parties faced direct questions from business leaders. Pakistan Peoples’ Party, Pakistan Muslim League (N), Pakistan Muslim League (Q), Muttehda Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) attended the meeting. There was an agreement from politicians that the next government must improve the conditions for doing business in the country, which will not only stop capital flight, but also provide employment opportunities.
Interestingly, they arrived on a consensus on the business community’s demand for an effective business-focused manifesto. It was agreed that after the elections, key political players will again sit down with business community leaders to get feedback on specific reform agenda.
Anna Nadgrodkiewicz and Marko Tomicic present the Implementation Gap handbook.
This past week, CIPE’s Cairo field office worked with partners Federation of Economic Development Associations (FEDA) and United Group to facilitate a conference on “Combating Corruption between the State and the Society.” The event was intended to summarize the lessons learned and experience gained by CIPE and its partners since 2008 under CIPE Egypt’s U.S. Agency for International Development- funded Combating Corruption and Promoting Transparency program, and to lay the groundwork for the newly-funded, two-year next phase of the initiative.
Of particular interest to the approximately 120 Egyptians present were two panelists who telecasted in from our Washington, DC office to share their perceptions of the “implementation gap” in Egyptian governance.
Marko Tomicic, a manager at the innovative transparency, governance, and corruption research organization Global Integrity, encouraged the audience to shy away from the conventional reliance on ranking indexes to understand the relative successes and failures of a country, and in particular, their own country.
Dr. Pakdee Pothisiri, Commissioner of Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission, at an IOD event in Bangkok. (Photo: CIPE)
Corruption is one of the world’s most pervasive and vexing problems, costing the global economy hundreds of billions of dollars each year and stalling economic growth in many developing countries. Though most anti-corruption efforts focus on government-driven solutions in Thailand, the private sector, with CIPE’s assistance, has taken the lead in stamping out corrupt practices.
Writing in the Bangkok Post, CIPE Program Officer John Morrell describes how this unique program took shape, and why private companies have taken such an interest in what is usually regarded as a problem for the government.
Demonstrators outside the ruling People’s Party headquarters in Madrid on February 4, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)
The European debt crisis and attendant recession has cause enormous pain for Spanish citizens. But today’s pain might lead to long-term gain, as a series of high-profile scandals have begun to turn the tide of public opinion against entrenched corruption.
Writing in TrustLaw, CIPE Senior Program Officer Anna Nadgrodkiewicz argues that a slew of recent corruption scandals, which sting all the more given the economic suffering of average citizens, may be catalyzing a wider movement.
“It will take more than name-and-shame or even high-level convictions” she writes. “The core of the problem lies in the rules for how political parties in Spain are financed and a widespread expectation that once a party wins the election that party’s officials will be placed in influential civil service positions.”
However, there are signs of the emergence of a popular movement against corruption that could help Spanish citizens root out these systemic problems.
Read the whole article at TrustLaw.
Participants at the January IOD training included senior officers from some of the largest local and multinational companies in Thailand.
In late January, more than 30 senior officers from 17 major Thai and multinational corporations attended an intensive anti-corruption training program led by the Thai Institute of Directors (IOD). This pilot two-day training course is the latest groundbreaking step in the Collective Action against Corruption campaign, now in its third year, being led by CIPE and IOD.
With technical and financial assistance from CIPE, IOD has assembled a still-expanding coalition of companies and business associations committed to fighting corruption in Thailand. To join this coalition, a company signs IOD’s Collective Action against Corruption Declaration which lays out tangible and specific steps that a company must take to proactively reduce corruption-related risks on the part of its employees, managers, and vendors. But signing this document is no mere photo-op, because to remain a member of this coalition, a company must submit to an external evaluation to verify whether or not it is actually doing what it has promised to do.
The transition to democracy is a moment of great hope and opportunity for any country. Unfortunately, even when the movement for democracy was driven by the corruption of the old regime, the transition does not immediately solve the problem.
Writing in the Huffington Post, CIPE Executive Director John D. Sullivan argues that it is important to see corruption not just as a moral problem but as an institutional problem. And changing institutions is hard work that can take time.
“Successfully fighting corruption in transitions requires collective action of engaged citizens through associations, civil society groups, think tanks and other groups,” he writes. “Providing assistance to these organizations in the form of technical, management and even financial assistance can help foster a successful transition.”
While fighting corruption in countries in transition requires the engagement of broad sections of society, one area that is often overlooked is the private sector. This diverse group — including small businesses and entrepreneurs, large national companies, and the many enterprises that work informally — has an important role to play. Though some parts of the private sector may have little desire for reform, the less politically connected firms and small businesspeople are often among the main victims of corruption, making them important allies in this fight.
Read the whole article at the Huffington Post.
Since 1995, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index has been putting corruption on the map by scoring the level of public sector corruption in countries around the world. What can we learn from this report — aside from the fact that corruption remains a widespread problem requiring urgent attention?
The top and bottom countries in this year’s index are no surprise: once again, Denmark, New Zealand, and Finland are tied at the top of the list of cleanest countries, while Afghanistan, North Korea, and Somalia share the bottom spot as most corrupt. It is interesting to note the geographic, cultural, and economic diversity of the world’s least corrupt countries. They include some of the wealthiest nations, such as Switzerland and Luxembourg; middle-income countries like Uruguay and Chile; small countries like Iceland and Barbados; and large, diverse societies like the United States.
One thing the least corrupt countries have in common: all but one of the countries in the top 20 is a democracy and is currently rated “Free” by Freedom House; Singapore and the territory of Hong Kong, also in the top 20, are rated “Partly Free.” Thirteen of the top 20 also sit in the top 20 on the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking. The bottom-ranked countries on the transparency index are also considered by Freedom House to be the world’s most undemocratic, and, not coincidentally, are difficult places to do business.
Of course, few observers expected Denmark or North Korea to switch positions this year. But the failure of countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen to improve may be more more worrying. In 2011, popular revolts sparked by high levels of corruption (among other factors) led to a change of leadership in each these countries. The mandate for their new, post-Arab Spring regimes was clear: fighting corruption should be a top priority.