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Fighting corruption increases aid effectivenes

The Group of Eight can start by cleaning up their side of the street

Fighting corruption is essential to improving aid effectiveness and reducing poverty, says Transparency International. A powerful attack on corruption will ensure that increases in aid being debated by the Group of Eight (G8) reach people who are most in need.

“It is unthinkable that the question of corruption could be divorced from the development aid agenda,” said David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of Transparency International. “Transparency and accountability for donor and recipient countries are the foundation for aid effectiveness and help maintain confidence in the entire process.”

Clean government matters

Corruption, cronyism and conflicts of interest among public officials have too often proven to be a sinkhole for badly needed public funds in developing nations. Aid has the greatest impact when the recipient government is taking action towards better governance. That includes a strengthening of preventive measures such as accounting rules, and reinforcing institutions of justice and oversight. These are provided for in the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which has been ratified by 27 countries, none of them members of the G8.

“It is conspicuous and regrettable that no G8 government has yet ratified the UN Convention,” said Nussbaum. “It is now imperative to commit to a timetable for ratification, to show that countries - wealthy and poor - are in this together.”

How aid money is delivered can also create opportunities for corruption. Well targeted development aid that takes governance weaknesses into account, on the other hand, will help build the capacity of local institutions to combat corruption.

One standard for all

But it is not just about getting aid right. Donor countries must be internally and externally consistent. Behaviour that is considered problematic in recipient countries cannot be acceptable for companies from wealthy countries, either abroad or at home.

Double standards send an unacceptable message. Guidelines agreed upon for recipient countries must be adopted internally by donor countries as well. Governance standards are as relevant for the private sector and legal authorities of G8 nations as they are for their development agencies and the countries receiving aid.

Transparency International is the leading global civil society organisation devoted to the fight against corruption.

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