Corruption during pandemic ‘will cost lives’

31 Mar 20

Unless anti-corruption measures are implemented during the coronavirus crisis, corruption will lead to people dying, according to campaign group Transparency International.

 

Thirteen regional chapters of the group in Latin America have published a set of proposals to mitigate the risk of corruption in public procurement as the region responds to the pandemic.

They hope to reduce the risks of a lack of transparency, hidden contracts, a lack of competition and collusion.

“It is essential that transparency, openness and integrity are preserved and that public purchases and contracts are reinforced during the declared emergency in Latin America,” said a statement from the group’s global headquarters.

“During emergencies, the risk of corruption is high and NGOs, like Transparency International, are on alert to prevent it. The solution must be greater transparency in public procurement and contracting to prevent misuse of resources, which unnecessarily costs lives.”

The analysis includes five recommendations:

  • Maximum openness of information, including open data, with a comprehensive view of public procurement, from planning to delivery;
  • Activation of pro-competition mechanisms;
  • Real-time supervision;
  • Full disclosure of the resources used and their destination accessible in one location; and
  • Broad public accountability on the resources used and their destination.

Regarding procurement, the group urged governments to engage national anti-monopoly agencies to avoid collusion between entities, as well as practices that result in price speculation.

Real-time audits for public procurement processes must be undertaken, because of the “exceptional nature of the situation and magnitude of the emergency”, and all procurement information should be concentrated on a single platform.

The group also appealed to the private sector to avoid practices that affect the supply of vital goods and services.

“The risks of capture of resources by economic interest groups and the unequal administration of direct aid can result in serious damage to public health in the region,” Transparency International said in a statement.

“The use of transparency measures is often blamed [by the private sector] for the delay of delivery of goods and services.”

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