The World Bank has recently published a report named “Enhancing Government Effectiveness and Transparency: The Fight Against Corruption” (World Bank 2020, Washington, DC.). It contains very interesting information to be taken into account not only by those working in the public sector but also by the ones acting in Compliance areas.
The document includes an analysis of cases pertaining to over 20 countries, which focuses on the efforts that each of them has made to combat corruption. It is a case study based on a number of levels, namely:
The first focus is placed on issues, challenges and trends related to governments’ functions, especially in connection with goods and services procurement, public goods provision (e.g., infrastructure), state-owned enterprises (SOE), tax collection and smuggling prevention (Customs), and the supply of services such as ports, health care, etc.
The second part deals with the different tools that governments have employed to prevent and detect corruption, including open government policies, use of technology, asset and interest disclosure, beneficial ownership transparency, as well as exchange of tax information and identification of tax crimes.
Finally, the text refers to the role of anticorruption agencies, supreme audit institutions and the judicial system as tools used to supervise, implement or contribute to anticorruption efforts, and the lessons drawn from their effectiveness.
The report highlights that, even in a context of increased worldwide corruption cases, progress in corruption mitigation is possible. Technology solutions and compliance measures are undoubtedly agents that contribute to the fight against corruption, though they are rarely sufficient in themselves. Progress is not linear and reforms could experience setbacks. So, it is more important to understand how a reform is made than what it encompasses.
As there is no single factor leading to success, it is clear that impactful reforms combine different interventions. Therefore, open government reforms lead to higher levels of trust and social capital; sector measures may be highly effective complementing broader efforts to enhance transparency, integrity, and good governance; and collaboration among agencies as well as sharing information – even at an international level – are becoming increasingly important to combat corruption. The report states that is it fundamental to look beyond the de iure design of anti-corruption agencies and get into their de facto impact so that they are not mere window-dressing.
As a conclusion, the report points out that even if there is not a single recipe and corruption combatting should necessarily combine multiple strategies – at different levels – measuring the impact of corruption may be very useful to sustain anti-corruption reforms, which in itself may pose great challenges.
With the case analysis presented, the study identifies six elements making a major contribution to the fight against corruption:
- Political leadership providing vision for the reforms that are necessary to achieve greater integrity and commitment to sustain them;
- Strong institutions which may exercise the required controls and thus ensure reform implementation;
- Transparency: open government and information access policies, especially in case of engaged and empowered communities;
- Incentives focusing on corruption at the micro-level and its manifestation in specific sectors or functions;
- Technology allowing process standardization, minimizing human interaction and gathering large amounts of information, which in turn helps exercise control over different transactions;
- Collaboration among multiple stakeholders, including across international borders.
The report finally states that achieving economic growth and long-term shared prosperity depends on governments, private sector and communities working together to address corruption and its corrosive impacts. The success and sustainability of reforms cannot be achieved solely through legislation, technology or citizen participation, but it requires the commitment of all parties through collaboration, innovation and mutual trust.
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 The report presents examples of the following countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bhutan, Chile, Colombia, Slovakia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Honduras, India, Kenya, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malaysia, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Rwanda, Romania, Ghana, Somalia, Thailand, and Ukraine