Remarks by Angel Gurría
25 August 2020 - OECD, France
(As prepared for delivery)
President Duque, Minister Claudia Blum de Barberri, Mr Cabezuela, Ambassador Llombard, Ambassador Gomez de Olea, Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is my pleasure to participate in the launch of the Colombian Chapter of the World Compliance Association.
First, I would like to congratulate Colombia on this significant achievement.
In recent years, Latin America – and Colombia in particular – have undergone a significant transformation in terms of compliance. They have developed leadership in the implementation of structural reforms related to matters such as liability of legal persons or compliance standards for businesses. Colombia, for example, has developed an excellent guide to the pre-requisites for a compliance programme and the responsibility of management boards in matters of corporate governance.
Indeed, seven Latin American countries (Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile and Peru) are Parties to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, highlighting the region’s growing commitment to good compliance practices.
Despite this progress, corruption continues to be a major, complex problem in Latin American countries, a problem that constrains inclusive growth and imperils both the social contract and our democratic values. In 2018, only 25% of the citizens in Latin America had full confidence in their governments, and close to 80% considered that they were governed by and for powerful groups and elites.
Compliance is a vital aspect of fair and efficient governance. But it is also vital in order to combat corruption and regain public trust. According to the OECD Trustlab, integrity is absolutely key to promoting trust. Moreover, a survey of young people across the world conducted by the World Economic Forum shows that almost half of those questioned consider that corruption and lack of transparency in both the public and private sectors are the factors that contribute most to inequality in their countries.
The current health and socio-economic crisis makes those factors even more important, as public trust in government is vital to the implementation of effective responses.
Despite this, reports of corruption abound. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of corrupt practices in public procurement, especially in the procurement of medications, equipment and services; the misappropriation of funds for private benefits; and the undue influence of private interests in the design of aid programmes and financial bailouts
For these reasons, now more than ever, effective coordination between the private sector, government and civil society is vital in order to respond effectively and transparently. We need to build back better, with greater equality and sustainability. The response to the crisis requires a social pact underpinned by equality, transparency and greater accountability: a response based on and aimed at combatting corruption. As a result, today more than ever, the OECD supports the establishment of regional chapters of the World Compliance Association.
The OECD has also been at the forefront in the development of standards in areas that are particularly vulnerable to corruption, for example the OECD Recommendation on Public Procurement and the OECD Recommendation on the Governance of Infrastructure. In 2018, we presented the Integrity and Anti-corruption Action Plan as a tool to turn the “Lima Commitment”, endorsed at the Summit of the Americas in 2018, into high-impact actions.
Additionally, last month, we launched the OECD Public Integrity Handbook to support public and private stakeholders in implementing the OECD Recommendation on Public Integrity, and to bolster a culture of integrity across the public sector, the private sector and civil society. We also work directly with governments to help them design and implement their national anti-corruption strategies. This is one of our highest priorities because no development is possible while corruption eats away at our systems.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
No country is immune to the corruption pandemic, and no country or business can afford to ignore it. Each of us must be part of the solution. At the OECD, we regard the private sector as a pivotal player and key partner for governments in the fight against corruption, and we hope to strengthen our joint actions to further prevent it.
As a member country of the OECD, Colombia is committed to further strengthen transparency and integrity by emphasising key areas for inclusive and sustainable growth, as highlighted in the OECD Integrity Review of Colombia, which I highly recommend you should read.
Count on the OECD to support the efforts made by Colombia and the other member countries of the World Compliance Association in the areas of compliance and accountability. Corruption necessarily involves cooperation, but cooperation is even more vital for devising an antidote and a solution. Together we will win this battle.
Thank you very much.