Corruption: The Ongoing Humanitarian Disaster

2 03 2010

I wanted to post this article again (first posted on 23rd september 2008). It exmpains why Artists Against Corruption will focus on exposing corruption, because of the direct link between corruption and poverty, expecially in developing nations.

Transparency International launched the 2008 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) which measures the perceived levels of corruption in 180 countries drawing on different expert and business surveys.

The Fatal Link between Corruption and Poverty

The Major findings of the 2008 report are “Persistently high corruption in low-income countries amounts to an “ongoing humanitarian disaster”, but at the same time, “Against a backdrop of continued corporate scandal, wealthy countries backsliding too.”

The report highlights the fatal link between poverty, failed institutions and corruption. “In the poorest countries, corruption levels can mean the difference between life and death, when money for hospitals or clean water is in play,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International. “The continuing high levels of corruption and poverty plaguing many of the world’s societies amount to an ongoing humanitarian disaster and cannot be tolerated. But even in more privileged countries, with enforcement disturbingly uneven, a tougher approach to tackling corruption is needed.”

Highs & Lows

Countries are scored on a scale from zero (highly corrupt) to ten (highly clean). The 2008 finds the cleanest countries are Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden, all sharing a score of 9.3. The most corrupt are; Somalia at 1.0, Iraq & Myanmar 1.3 and Haiti at 1.4.

Changes

2008 sores, compared to 2007 scores, showed significant declines for Bulgaria, Burundi, Maldives, Norway and the United Kingdom. On the other hand, Albania, Cyprus, Georgia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, South Korea, Tonga and Turkey all showed significant improvements.

Wealthy Country Corruption v Poor Country Corruption

Whether in high or low-income countries, the challenge of reigning in corruption requires functioning societal and governmental institutions. Poorer countries are often plagued by corrupt judiciaries and ineffective parliamentary oversight. Wealthy countries, on the other hand, show evidence of insufficient regulation of the private sector, in terms of addressing overseas bribery by their countries, and weak oversight of financial institutions and transactions.

“Stemming corruption requires strong oversight through parliaments, law enforcement, independent media and a vibrant civil society,” said Labelle. “When these institutions are weak, corruption spirals out of control with horrendous consequences for ordinary people, and for justice and equality in societies more broadly.”

Weakening the Fight Against Poverty

In low-income countries, rampant corruption jeopardises the global fight against poverty, threatening to derail the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). According to TI’s 2008 Global Corruption Report, unchecked levels of corruption would add US $50 billion (€35 billion) – or nearly half of annual global aid outlays – to the cost of achieving the MDG on water and sanitation.

Not only does this call for a redoubling of efforts in low-income countries, where the welfare of significant portions of the population hangs in the balance, it also calls for a more focussed and coordinated approach by the global donor community to ensure development assistance is designed to strengthen institutions of governance and oversight in recipient countries, and that aid flows themselves are fortified against abuse.

This is the message that TI will be sending to the member states of the UN General Assembly as they prepare to take stock on progress in reaching the MDGs on 25 September, and ahead of the UN conference on Financing for Development, in Doha, Qatar, where commitments on funding aid will be taken.

Double Standards

The weakening performance of some wealthy exporting countries, with notable European decliners in the 2008 CPI, casts a further critical light on government commitment to reign in the questionable methods of their companies in acquiring and managing overseas business, in addition to domestic concerns about issues such as the role of money in politics. The continuing emergence of foreign bribery scandals indicates a broader failure by the world’s wealthiest countries to live up to the promise of mutual accountability in the fight against corruption.

“This sort of double standard is unacceptable and disregards international legal standards,” said Labelle. “Beyond its corrosive effects on the rule of law and public confidence, this lack of resolution undermines the credibility of the wealthiest nations in calling for greater action to fight corruption by low-income countries.” The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, which criminalises overseas bribery by OECD-based companies, has been in effect since 1999, but application remains uneven.

Regulation, though, is just half the battle. Real change can only come from an internalised commitment by businesses of all sizes, and in developing as well as developed countries, to real improvement in anti-corruption practices.

Full Story

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33% of Russian National Budget Lost in Corruption

23 07 2008

A senior Russian prosecutor claims that “Corrupt Russian officials are creaming off about $120bn (£61bn) a year – the equivalent of a third of the national budget” according to a BBC news report “Russian Corruption Skims Billions” (6th June 2008).

The BBC’s James Rodgers, in Moscow, says corruption is like a disease which affects almost every part of Russian life. Russians were resigned to bribe-taking officials and business kickbacks worth billions, he said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in his interview with western media since taking office in May, said, “We have specific Russian problems, I will mention two of these. Firstly, poverty which we haven’t yet defeated. We are going to work hard at this in the next few years, using all of our economic might. And the second problem I must mention is corruption, corruption as a systemic challenge, as a threat to national security, as a problem which leads to a lack of faith among citizens in the ability of government to impose order and protect them.”

The report adds, “Not every Russian has had their share of the construction and consumer boom spawned by rising oil and gas prices. Russia is the world’s second biggest oil exporter but analysts say rising inflation and widespread poverty have resulted in a huge gap in living standards.”

Russia is an example of the way corruption, when endemic, can massively undermine the opportunities of a country, even a country rich in oil that should be able to lift its citizens out of poverty.   





War, Corruption & Poverty

22 07 2008

In the last article about “Aid, Corruption & Poverty” is sited an article talking about aid to Afghanistan. There the problems continue and the lessons have not yet been learnt. Worse still, the same mistakes are being made in Iraq.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF IRAQI RECONSTRUCTION MONEY money entrusted to the American Coalition? In just fourteen months, the CPA burned its way through nearly $20 billion. But no-one can account for where it all went. Iraq’s infrastructure is worse than ever before. Operating theatres are flooded with sewage. New-born babies are dying for lack of basic equipment. In this shocking ‘Dispatches’ investigation, Iraqi doctor Ali Fadhil goes in search of the missing money. He uncovers a horrific story of fraud, incompetence and corruption.

Click here If you want to see the full video (47min)





Corruption & Poverty

21 07 2008

Artists Against Corruption will expose the link between corruption and poverty in an effort to show that “corruption is the greatest obstacle to overcoming poverty” (World Bank), and hopefully help to end the tolerance of it.

The links are not immediately obvious, and they are in fact many and varied. They depend on the type of corruption, also many and varied.

On a macro level it is safe to say that “Corruption not only reduces the net income of the poor but also wrecks programmes related to their basic needs, from sanitation to education to health care. It results in the misallocation of resources to the detriment of poverty reduction programmes.” (Transparency International) But the, effects are most dramatically obvious at a micro or personal level when a bribe randomly extorted by a police officer may mean a families cannot afford medicines or even basic food.

Corruption has an impact on the effectiveness of spending by a national government, and on the effectiveness of international development assistance. The money does not always reach the intended beneficiaries because of corruption. in 2006 Donor countries donated US$104bn in official development assistance. This is set to increase to US$130bn by 2010. If this money gets into the wrong hands the Millennium Development Goals will be put at risk, or as Transparency International put it, “With increasing levels of aid there is concern that corrupt politicians and business people may use this money to enrich themselves rather than improving living conditions for the poor.” This will happen unless corruption is tackled as an integral part of poverty reduction strategies.

Corruption also has a serious impact on development driven by private businesses. In a society where a culture of corruption is dominant trust does not exist and business risks are higher resulting in less risk taking by enterprises. Foreign buisnesses are also less likely to invest. In a recent survey the Economist Intelligence Unit found that, “45% of respondents say they have not entered a specific market or pursued a particular opportunity because of corruption risks.”

It is safe to conclude that societies pay a massive price if they tollerate corruption, but the price paid by the poor is far greater. It is no exageration to say that for many poor people the cost of corruption is their lives. One example is when corrupt officials starve hospitals of resources leaving them unable to save lives, whilst spending public funds on projects that offer financial kickbacks.

Artists Against Corruption supports the general fight against corruption, but our focus is to raise awareness on behalf of those most affected by it.

Given the growing consensus that the problem must be addressed we are hoping for widesread support from institutions, governments, private companies and NGO´s in our effort to raise awareness and a desire to put an end to corruption.