Transparency International (TI) and its chapter in Argentina, Poder Ciudadano, take issue with the remarks made by the Argentinean Foreign Minister, Rafael Biesla, in an interview with the Buenos Aires newspaper, La Nación, in which the minister, in charge of organising the Fourth Summit of the Americas, asks why “it is important to discuss corruption (…) in a country where 37 percent of the population have economic problems“. Yes, Minister Bielsa, it is important.
Corruption is the primary obstacle for economic development for low-income countries. The World Bank Institute estimates that, globally, 1 trillion dollars are paid in bribes per year. The misadministration of public funds has a devasating effect on those who need the most support. It is fundamental to attack this misuse in order to address the economic problems facing the country. Corruption is a disincentive for economic investment and therefore prevents the creation of jobs.
“We profoundly regret the statements made by minister Bielsa. We see that many governments have not understood the grave impact of corruption when the time comes to discuss the politics of job creation and poverty alleviation”, said Silke Pfeiffer, Transparency International Regional Director for the Americas. “It is unfortunate that these remarks should come from the nation hosting the summit. We hope that the assembled delegates understand that fighting corruption is crucial in order to reach the the summit goals,” she added.
“We see how the ignorance of the past, when corruption wasn’t considered a real problem, raises its head again-,” noted Pilar Arcidiácono, Issue Co-ordinator for Transparency and Anti-corruption at Poder Ciudadano,. “The 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index revealed that Argentina, like the majority of countries in Latin America, is threatened by severe levels of corruption.” She added, “If the countries assembled at the Mar del Plata Summit arrive with the same cloudedvision as the Argentinean minister, the goal of strong governance in the region will remain unreachable.“
In the same interview, Bielsa maintained that corruption is an important theme but opined, “What can we say regarding this that hasn’t been said already?” Minister Bielsa, you are right, there is no need for further discussion, it is time to translate these words into action.
What we - and all the people of Argentina - hope to see from the governments assembled at the Fourth Summit of the Americas is a powerful new commitment to fight the corruption that is ravaging our country. This will benefit everyone, but especially the weakest members of society, who cannot fight for themselves.
TI is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.
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