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Coronavirus sparks high risk of corruption across Latin America

Thirteen Latin American chapters from Transparency International highlight public procurement risks and how to mitigate them to benefit people

Today, a working group of 13 Latin American chapters of Transparency International presented a set of proposals to mitigate the risk of corruption in public procurement as part of the region’s response to the Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic. Unless anti-corruption measures are implemented during this crisis, corruption will cost lives.

Read the analysis (Spanish/Portuguese PDF)

The analysis highlights corruption risks and key preventive strategies to ensure that direct purchases and contracting, which occur as a result of the health crisis, serve to help citizens and alleviate the impact on local economies, and are not instead diverted by corruption or opportunism.

Specifically, the proposals aim to mitigate the risks of opacity, hidden contracts, overpricing, lack of competition, collusion and other corruption risks. It is essential that transparency, openness and integrity are preserved and that public purchases and contracts are reinforced during the declared emergency in Latin America.

The analysis includes five strategic recommendations:

  1. Maximum openness of information, including open data, with a comprehensive view of public procurement, from planning to delivery;
  2. Activation of pro-competition mechanisms;
  3. Real-time supervision;
  4. Full disclosure of the resources used and their destination accessible in one location; and
  5. Broad public accountability on the resources used and their destination.

Appeal to private sector

The 13 chapters also make a special appeal to the private sector to avoid practices that affect the supply of goods and services necessary to face this health emergency. The risks of capture of resources by economic interest groups and the unequal administration of direct aid can result in serious damage to public health in the region. The use of transparency measures is often blamed for the delay of delivery of goods and services.

Best practices for procurement

In addition, the Latin American chapters of Transparency International urge governments to ensure best practices for public procurement, particularly in times of health emergency, and ask national leaders to commit to the following:

  • Activate national anti-monopoly agencies to avoid collusion between economic actors or practices that result in price speculation.
  • Activate real-time audits for public procurement processes, precisely because of the exceptional nature of the situation and the magnitude of the emergency.
  • Concentrate on a single platform for all information related to government procurement on this topic or identify an electronic platform for public procurement.
  • Ensure proper accountability during the emergency response.

Transparency and integrity save lives

During emergencies, the risk of corruption is high and NGOs, like Transparency International, are on alert to prevent it. The solution must be greater transparency in public procurement and contracting to prevent misuse of resources, which unnecessarily costs lives.

Transparency International press office
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