States could make progress in the fight against corruption even under the most difficult conditions. A new World Bank report, “enhancing government effectiveness and transparency: fighting corruption,” takes a fresh look at some of the most effective methods and tools for enhancing government accountability, at a time when governments have urgently mobilized unprecedented levels of funding to address the covid – 19 pandemic, and focuses on ways to enhance the effectiveness of anti-corruption strategies in sectors most affected by the pandemic. It is a reference guide for policymakers and those concerned with combating corruption, and comes at a time when more efforts are needed to strengthen the application of traditional tools.
“The coronavirus pandemic has led to significant emergency spending by governments very quickly to revive the economy, as well as to protect the poor and well-cared-for groups who suffer disproportionately. As countries embark on the road to a more inclusive and resilient recovery, the prudent use of scarce resources in a transparent manner is critical. If progress is possible in all environments, we are committed to working closely with our partners in government, civil society and the private sector to address corruption and its devastating impacts”.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in emergency government spending, sometimes without adhering to the principle of regular mutual control between the agencies concerned. While the speed of action in this situation, in the absence of appropriate controls, is understandable and justified, it exposes governments to a variety of corruption risks that may undermine the effectiveness of their pandemic responses. To enhance accountability, the report calls on governments to clearly state what measures they are taking, enforce rules and laws, address violations and address problems as quickly and transparently as possible.
There are five main themes: public procurement, infrastructure, state-owned enterprises, customs administration, and service delivery, as well as common themes such as open government initiatives and government technology, with Case Studies and examples from around the world.
Case studies show that measures to reduce corruption are often rapid and opportunistic, targeting specific areas of vulnerability where and when the political climate permits. But even when business has a clearly limited impact, it can provide an important basis for future progress. In Bangladesh, the implementation of the government e-tendering system, coupled with increased transparency and citizen participation, has halved the number of single bids resulting in significantly improved competition, increased contracts awarded to non-local companies, and better prices with successful bidders. Colombia has also updated its electronic tendering system to publish data in an open manner in accordance with international standards. As a result, the number of single tenders in the public roads authority has fallen from 30 per cent to 22 per cent, while cities such as Cali have seen an increase in competitive processes from 31 per cent to 56 per cent in almost two years.
In Ukraine, citizens and the international community recognized that online posting of declarations of state officials was a key tool in the fight against corruption. The most recent data indicate that approximately 5.3 million documents in the electronic certification system are currently available to the general public. In mid-2020, there were 16 cases pending before the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine against officials accused of providing false information in financial disclosure statements or intentionally failing to file them.
In Afghanistan, the Customs Service is gradually mechanizing customs clearance operations across the country. Although significant weaknesses remain, and revenue losses at the border pose a major challenge, revenue collected by the Customs Service increased sevenfold between 2004 and 2019, clearance time was reduced and transparency of trade transactions improved dramatically. In Rwanda, the agrarian reform programme has helped to manage land disputes and has led to increased efficiency, transparency, citizen participation and the development of good land management institutions. The mechanization of land registries has reduced the bribes paid to land registry officials in the light of the current availability of information to the general public.
Public sector and civil society officials must be provided with a standard set of approaches, starting points and tools that can be used and adapted to the context in each individual state. Institutions play a critical role in implementing government policies, engaging civil society and ensuring that transparency in government processes is upheld. “This report highlights the importance of strengthening traditional methods of dealing with corruption using advanced methods such as government technology and e-tendering to address corruption, even in the most difficult and fragile environments.”
The World Bank Group, one of the world’s largest sources of financing and knowledge for developing countries, is currently implementing rapid and broad measures to help them strengthen their response to the pandemic. The Bank Group supports healthcare interventions, ensures the flow of vital supplies and devices, and helps private sector organizations to continue their work and maintain their employees. It will provide up to دولار 160 billion in financial resources over 15 months to help more than 100 countries protect the poor and the most vulnerable, support businesses and foster economic recovery. This includes $ 50 million of new resources from IDA in the form of grants or on highly concessional terms.