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Governments in the Americas must eliminate corruption to create jobs and reduce poverty

Transparency International’s recommendations presented to OAS Secretary-General at Summit of the Americas

Poor public resource management has a devastating effect on the most vulnerable segments of society and constitutes the primary hindrance to poverty reduction and job creation. Governments attending the fourth Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina, must make a serious commitment to the fight against corruption if the profound challenges faced by the hemisphere are to be overcome.

“In a region where most countries are adrift in a sea of corruption, submerged in extreme poverty and now, devastated by natural disasters, governments must jump head first into the fight against corruption. It must be their top priority,” stated Silke Pfeiffer, Transparency International’s (TI) Regional Director for the Americas, in Mar del Plata. “Shrinking the gap between the rich and poor, creating jobs and improving governance will not happen until the governments of the hemisphere move beyond the same-old promises of the past and make it happen,” she added.

At a meeting this morning in Mar del Plata, José Miguel Insulza, Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), received recommendations from Transparency International on how governments can strengthen efforts against corruption within their administrations, toughen the fight against bribery in the private sector and enhance corporate social responsibility.

TI urged the governments to fully and effectively implement the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which will enter into force on 14 December.

TI also noted the deteriorating Summit of the Americas process. It recommended creation of a transparent, participatory mechanism to follow up commitments undertaken at this year’s Summit, with a view to establishing an ongoing dialogue between governments, the private sector and civil society on the drafting and implementation of a shared hemispheric agenda.

“Beyond crucial changes to the region’s legal systems, governments and public entities must amend their everyday practices, first by making them transparent in the eyes of their citizens,” noted Miguel Angel Peñailillo, regional coordinator of TI’s Anti-Corruption Conventions Programme.

The 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index, launched by Transparency International on 18 October, confirmed an undeniable correlation between corruption and poverty. Two-thirds of the 159 countries surveyed, including 23 countries of the Americas, suffer from very high perceived levels of corruption.

Latin America is far from meeting the poverty reduction targets of the Millennium Development Goals: over 128 million inhabitants of the region live on less than $2 a day and over 50 million on less than $1. Corruption undermines good governance, producing instability, weak democratic institutions and slow economic growth. It hampers investment and weakens assistance efforts, and leads to unemployment.

The people pay the price. For example, the peasant communities of Guatemala’s altiplano, composed almost entirely of indigenous peoples, lost 80 percent of their corn crops, a staple for the community, in the most recent hurricane. If adequate help does not arrive because of corruption and lack of oversight in management of the aid process, many innocent people will face starvation and death.

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

Note to editors:
To access Transparency International’s recommendations, click here.

Transparency International (TI) has participated in activities geared towards following up to the commitments undertaken by signatories since the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (IACAC) entered into force in 1996. This monitoring has enabled the implementation of IACAC provisions in 10 countries to be verified; new findings will be made available in December of this year.


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Transparency International
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