Anti-corruption day statement by Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International
“We have seen that economic growth without good governance does not guarantee that the fruits of that growth will be shared equally, nor does it guarantee stability.
When political decisions are unduly influenced by special interests, when valuable resources are exploited by profitable companies but the wealth does not reach the citizens, people lose faith in their leaders.
When public services are weakened because funds are diverted, lost or stolen, people lose out on services they need to live a decent life.
When the fabric of societies is fatally weakened and violence can thrive unpunished, people die.
While awareness of corruption is on the rise, so is the sophistication of the techniques used to profit from it. The size of the illicit economy, estimated at US $1.3 trillion by Global Financial Integrity, provides an unacceptable hiding place for bribes, tax evasion and the laundering of embezzled or misallocated public funds. Every year that goes by without reform of the global financial architecture is a year in which it remains possible to profit from corruption with impunity.
Governments are responding by passing new anti-corruption measures into law. We have seen legislative progress in several G20 countries, and the G20’s anti-corruption agenda is one of our best hopes for creating a positive contagion effect, to counteract the negative contagion created by the financial crisis.
However, in hard economic times, the question is whether governments will show the political will to ensure such measures have real impact. This will require ensuring that well-resourced investigators can operate with the same levels of sophistication as the facilitators of corruption. The onus must now be on businesses and governments committed to keeping clean to lead by example by operating with the highest standards of transparency in all their operations.
Until this happens, corruption will continue to weaken the effectiveness of the most important projects of our time: the climate projects that we need to protect planet and people from global warming, the development policies that we need to help people living in dire poverty, and the efforts to resurrect a fairer more just economy from the economic crisis.
For too long, the demands of citizens for more accountable government have met promises for change, but too little action.
From this anti-corruption day on, we must judge commitments to good behaviour by the transparency and accountability with which leaders of government and business conduct their affairs.”
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