In 2009, Cambodia’s provincial legislatures became elected bodies for the first time in the country’s history. Against the backdrop of decentralization, this newly democratic level of government is also being called upon to handle a greater share of public service delivery. If they fail to perform, and if their increased budgets result in a dramatic expansion of corruption, democracy could be seen as failing to perform.
Provincial governments currently account for approximately 20 percent of all public sector spending in Cambodia, up from nearly zero in the late 1990s. This figure will continue to rise as provincial governments increasingly bear the financial burden of primary and secondary education, public health and sanitation, local transportation infrastructure, and basic public administration.
To help mitigate corruption risks, there is a need for greater transparency in provincial finances, increased civic involvement in provincial procurement processes, and good governance advocacy at the local level of government. To address this challenge, CIPE launched an innovative project in June 2012 with a Cambodian NGO called Silaka to reduce corruption in provincial government procurement.
“The work of development is too important to be left in the hands of governments alone. It is the responsibility of everyone. Especially the business community… Business, like governments, will have to be at the forefront of this change. No one can do it alone.”
In the latest Economic Reform Feature Service article, CIPE partner and Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Betty Maina highlights the crucial role of multi-stakeholder platforms in an enabling business environment.
Governments around the world spend trillions on public procurement each year for everything from office supplies to military equipment to infrastructure megaprojects like this $5 billion Panama Canal expansion.
By Kirby Bryan
For over a decade, the World Bank Group’s Doing Business index has served as quintessential tool for determining how well a country’s institutional infrastructure is suited to the promotion of a productive business environment. But something was missing. Businesses and governments interact on levels beyond permitting and regulation: the public sector can also be a client.
Public procurement can provide opportunities for corruption. When seeking lucrative public contracts, companies look for any opportunity they can take advantage of that will improve their ability to secure a successful bid. Unscrupulous government officials can use their influential positions to attain favors and gifts from businesses pursuing public procurement tenders.
In March 2015, the World Bank Group, in conjunction with the George Washington University Law School, held a release event for the first installment of its Benchmarking Public Procurement Index.
What are the drivers of and institutional responses to corruption? Are current anti-corruption instruments used domestically and internationally effective? These were the key questions of a fascinating day-long event organized last week in Washington, DC by the George Washington School of Law and the International Bar Association, among others.
The event gathered a distinguished group of speakers from the government, academia, international organizations, law firms, and non-profits, as well as an engaged audience of anti-corruption scholars and practitioners.
While the discussion touched upon a multitude of corruption-related topics, the following aspects of corruption raised at event were the most valuable insights for me:
Corruption as a violation of public trust. Janine Wedel, a Berkeley-trained anthropologist and a professor at George Mason University, emphasized that corruption is more than just simple quid pro quo. Instead, it is a sophisticated network rooted in informal power, influence elites, and often aided by the post-Cold War global economic openness as the revolution of the digital age.
Corruption as a governance problem. Nikos Passas, professor at the Northeastern University, pointed out the roots of corruption in discrepancies between legitimacy and legality (lawful but awful conduct by government officials or businesses) and in unlawful but useful behavior (e.g., bribing a doctor to treat a patient in a failing healthcare system). International norms such as the United Nations Convention Against Corruption help by creating agreed-upon legal standards, but improving on-the-ground governance in countries around the world still has a long way to go. Read a Q&A with Nikos Passas here.
Private sector as a force for anti-corruption. Baker & McKenzie’s Tom Firestone stressed that a broad-based business community in a given country can be an effective force in anti-corruption efforts. He recounted his experience in Russia where local businesses resisted corrupt encroachments of the state. Local firms, after all, have a strong interest in the rule of law and a level playing field in the business environment. But they can’t do it alone.
Inter-governmental cooperation makes a difference. Kathryn Nickerson, Senior Counsel at the Department of Commerce highlighted the importance of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions responsible for monitoring and implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
Corruption as an attack on human dignity. Sarah Chayes, the conference’s keynote speaker, talked about her recently published book, Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security. She pointed out that there is a moral dimension to corruption – it leads to widespread moral decay and individual humiliation that goes beyond money. In extreme cases of corruption-ridden countries, it is not the weakness of the state that leads to corruption. Rather, the institutions of the state have evolved to make them a conduit for corruption that permeates entire societies.
Anna Nadgrodkiewicz is Director for Multiregional Programs at CIPE.
The Philippine National Police have used the Performance Governance System to improve governance.
Efficient, transparent and accountable governance continues to be a major driving force behind reform movements around the world. In partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) has implemented the Performance Governance System (PGS) initiative in the Philippines. The Performance Governance System is a highly rigorous accreditation program that requires participating organizations to reform and strengthen their governance practices with the goal of improving organizational performance, financial transparency and political accountability.
An increasing number of policy and governance challenges around the world demand private sector participation to generate viable solutions. Such challenges include poverty reduction, inclusive growth, government accountability, business integrity, national competitiveness, innovation, and access to opportunity. Although the obstacles to dialogue can be high, the value of dialogue is now widely recognized by governments and business leaders alike. Notably, the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea, recommended that countries embrace “inclusive dialogue for building a policy environment conducive to sustainable development.”
In CIPE’s latest Economic Reform Feature Service article, Benjamin Herzberg, Program Lead, Leadership, Learning and Innovation at the World Bank Group, my colleague Kim Bettcher, Senior Knowledge Manager at CIPE, and I explore the importance of PPD and discuss its practical applications around the world.
This blog is the first in a three-part series addressing recent findings of the Arab Barometer, whose objectives include the production of scientifically reliable data on the political attitudes of ordinary citizens.
For Iraq, bombing ISIS out of existence is impossible and counterintuitive. Job creation that drives balanced economic growth, on the other hand, is not only feasible but badly needed. The policy narratives may be slowly shifting away from a security focus towards a holistic reform that prioritizes job creation. Academics, development experts, and even the U.S. President are beginning to realize that providing economic outlets for Iraqis, particularly potential militants, to put food on the table and send their children to school might be the long-term silver bullet.
This should not be a difficult message to sell: economic opportunity – not martyrdom, not anti-Western ideology, not even the Syrian Civil War – is far and away the most important issue for all Arabs whether they are for, against, or undecided about ISIS. Below is an analysis of three recent opinion polls showing that, whereas much remains to divide the Iraqi people, job creation continues to unite them and should be the thrust of coalition-building and reconstruction efforts emanating from Baghdad and Washington.
The CIPE Development Blog provides coverage of the Center for International Private Enterprise and its partner network at work -- highlighting successes, drawing out lessons from failure, and exploring the broader issues of political and economic development. For more information visit CIPE.org.