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Argentina G20 presidency must put anti-corruption at heart of global agenda

As Argentina takes over the presidency of the G20 from Germany today, Transparency International and its chapter in Argentina, Poder Ciudadano, call on the government to place tackling corruption at the top of the G20 agenda and demonstrate its commitment to working with civil society to make economic growth work for all, and not just the elite few.

It is the first time in five years that a Latin American country hosts the G20, and in that time corruption scandals have rocked the continent. Just this year, in fellow G20 member country Brazil, engineering company Oderbrecht received a US$2.6 billion fine for bribery. The company is charged with paying around US$788 million in bribes to 12 countries between 2001 and 2016, including to G20 members Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

In our Latin American Corruption Barometer, launched just last month, we found that nearly two thirds of people surveyed in the region said corruption was getting worse and more than half said their government was doing a bad job. This situation will not improve until anti-corruption measures are integrated into all G20 priorities.

“In taking on the G20 presidency, Argentina must not downplay serious concerns about corruption and instead must take concrete measures to prevent such scandals taking place again,” said Delia Ferreira, chair of Transparency International. “If Argentina can succeed in doing that, it will take a step towards re-establishing trust in governments across the region.”

Transparency International calls on the new G20 hosts to place corruption at the core of the G20’s infrastructure investment agenda. Argentina should push for G20 countries to:

  • Tackle corruption and waste in public funded projects: Adopt and implement the five pillars of the Clean Contracting manifesto including adopting open contracting data standards, ensuring independent civil society monitoring, promoting effective participation in public procurement processes, supporting a strong civil society sector and establishing effective sanctions.
  • Uncover conflicts of interest that stifle competition and innovation: Implement the G20 Beneficial Ownership Principles adopted in 2014, and establish public beneficial ownership registers that disclose the identity of those who own and control domestically incorporated companies and foreign companies bidding for public contracts.
  • Ensure strong civil society and citizen engagement: Treat the Civil 20 official engagement platform on a level footing as other engagement groups including the Business 20, and promote strong participation and access rights to domestic and foreign NGOs.
  • Integrate corruption risk analysis across G20 work streams: Ensure that all G20 work streams take into account corruption risks before signing off on new policies or projects, implement existing G20 commitments and principles on corruption and establishing a strong system to monitor progress towards reaching anti-corruption targets by 2020.

"Infrastructure projects have historically been associated with corruption," said Pablo Secchi, managing director of Poder Ciudadano. "We call on Argentina to use its G20 presidency to lead on establishing strong anti-corruption requirements into G20 infrastructure projects."

If Argentina can host a strong, inclusive G20 process, it will demonstrate its potential to be a world leader on anti-corruption and transparency issues – surely a point in Argentina’s favour as the OECD considers its membership application. International action must also be backed by action on domestic issues.

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