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COVID-19 crisis demands actions not words from G20 anti-corruption meeting

The G20 anti-corruption ministerial meeting taking place tomorrow, 22 October, must result in concrete steps that will prevent corruption from undermining the global coronavirus response and recovery, Transparency International said today. As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recognised last week, the response to the virus is creating new opportunities to exploit weak oversight and inadequate transparency. Transparency International has identified over US$1 billion lost to corruption and malfeasance related to COVID-19, in just 19 cases documented by journalists.

While the G20 has adopted some measures in order to address the various aspects of the COVID-19 crisis, including the endorsement of an Action Plan and a Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), much more needs to be done in order to ensure, in the G20’s own words, a transparent, robust, coordinated, large-scale and science-based global response. Further measures should include the commitment of dedicated resources for anti-corruption and transparency to protect the resources made available for the COVID-19 response and recovery.

Emilia Berazategui, Global Advocacy Coordinator at Transparency International, said: “The G20 has made over 60 anti-corruption commitments over the years, but implementation is still lagging far behind these good intentions. If this meeting is to result in more than empty promises, we need to see the G20 take concrete steps to rise to the challenge of the moment. Top priority should be to make sure relief funds reach those most in need. Countries receiving assistance should be able to expect not only anti-corruption leadership and guidance, but financial resources for anti-corruption to protect the unprecedented sums involved.”

Transparency International also called on the G20 to help ensure that civil society is able to fulfil its oversight function to help protect public funds from corruption.

Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International, said: “To be effective, anti-corruption measures need to involve the whole of society. The ministers taking part in this anti-corruption meeting must unanimously show their support for independent civil society and its crucial watchdog function. They must also take into account the particular impact of corruption on vulnerable communities and ensure that anti-corruption measures address the specific needs of women and minorities.”

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