Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General

OECD Integrity Forum: Curbing Corruption – Investing in Growth

 

Closing Remarks by Angel Gurría

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 26 March 2015

(As prepared for delivery)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Thank you for joining us at the 3rd OECD Integrity Forum, our anti-corruption platform where policy makers, business, civil society and other stakeholders unite in the fight against corruption. Let me thank also the Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine Mr. Aivaras Abromavicius, for closing the Integrity Forum this year. His presence today is a testimony to Ukraine’s commitment to the country’s fight against corruption. The OECD has recently strengthened its cooperation with Ukraine and is ready to further support the country in its efforts to combat corruption. 

 

This year we focused on the nexus between corruption and investment: "Curbing Corruption – Investing in Growth”. Not a small challenge. We yearn for sustainable and inclusive growth that ensures citizens’ well-being. Our policies need to deliver quality jobs, health services, education systems and infrastructure. To deliver all this, we need investment to bear its best fruit.

 

Investment, the theme of this year’s Ministerial Council Meeting, promotes employment, diffusion of technology, and entrepreneurial expertise. Promoting investment is all the more relevant today. In key regions like Europe investment is still below its pre-crisis level. Global FDI flows are now about 40% below their peak year in 2007. Last year, G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors identified, in particular, investment in infrastructure as “crucial for the global economy’s transition to stronger growth”.

 

 

Corruption is one of the greatest impediments to investment

 

Yet, we will not be able to deliver on our investment targets if we do not confront the pervasive threat of corruption. Corruption is one of the most toxic impediments to efficient and effective investment. It not only reduces investment but also worsens its quality. Capture of investment policies by vested interests and elites contributes to inequalities and breeds crises. Just one case of corruption can have serious consequences, in particular for the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.

 

Our first ever Foreign Bribery Report published last December showed that corruption is often present in one form or another in public investment, particularly in infrastructure: 59% of foreign bribery cases occurred in infrastructure sectors and the majority of bribes are paid to obtain public procurement contracts. The OECD Report on Corruption and Growth that we launched yesterday illustrates how corruption in sectors like extractives leads to a misallocation of public budget and low quality services.

 

Corruption is also taking its toll on public trust and social capital. Trust in governments is at a record low in many countries and many economic reforms are not delivering and will not deliver if we do not recover trust. This is why, more than ever, we need to strengthen our integrity frameworks and systems. And we need to do this together, through effective and inclusive multilateral cooperation.

 

 

Multilateral cooperation is essential: the OECD’s contribution

 

Corruption is a formidable enemy. It’s constantly evolving, becoming more complex, more transnational, you might say, more slippery. We cannot be complacent. We must be innovative. We must be bold; we must be courageous! And we must join forces and learn from each other’s best practices.

 

The OECD has been doing this for about three decades, promoting international standards, anti-corruption instruments and numerous tools to support integrity. For example, the well-known Anti-Bribery Convention; a toolkit for policy-makers on whistle-blower protection; the OECD Recommendation on Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying; the Guidelines for Managing Conflicts of Interest in the Public Service; and the Principles for Managing Ethics in the Public Service.

 

And we are working hard to keep our tools up to date.  We recently revised the OECD Policy Framework for Investment which underscores the importance of integrity and openness as key governance pre-requisites for a healthy investment climate. Close to 30 countries, at varying levels of development, and across all continents, have used the PFI as a tool for assessing investment and business climates and for designing reforms to improve them.

 

We also recently revised the OECD’s Public Procurement Principles to advance a strategic and holistic use of public procurement that mitigates corruption risks in this most vulnerable government process. The OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises also emphasise the need to ensure that foreign investors comply with anti-corruption standards.

 

 

This Integrity Forum has moved forward on many fronts

 

Over the last few two days you have moved forward on many fronts.

 

You have identified corruption entry points over the entire investment cycle, at the international, national and sub-national level. You have looked at curbing corruption in specific sectors: how to strengthen governance in the corruption-prone infrastructure sector. You have also focussed on regions: assessing recent transparency reforms in the extractives sector of Latin America and the Caribbean. This is a subject close to my own heart, and I am proud that the OECD is serving as a platform for progress in this area.

 

You have also helped us with a new OECD tool, a "Checklist to Curb Corruption in Public Investment”, which will assist governments to mitigate corruption risks in public investment. 

 

We also had the first public consultation on a new initiative at the OECD to promote business integrity. The OECD Trust and Business Project is working with governments, business and other stakeholders to bridge the gap between integrity standards for business and their implementation. I think we can all agree that implementation is key! Your experiences, ideas and perspectives on improving compliance and enforcement will flow directly into the project’s first report in June. You have a real stake in the project now, so let’s keep the discussion going!

 

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the closing panel for their insights and views on how to be more effective in the fight against corruption to ensure that we not only meet the challenges posed by corruption, but anticipate them and build an “integrity-virtuous circle”.

 

Before closing, let me just acknowledge that in all of our endeavours, we are joined by partners, like the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations, Transparency International, the International Chamber of Commerce and many others, all of whom have sent representatives to participate in this Forum.

 

In the next few months, the OECD will build on the results of this week to take a hard look at its anti-corruption strategy and take new steps forward. I have convened a High Level Advisory Group on Anti-Corruption which will help us guide our reflections. We are privileged to have some of its members here today. I would like to thank them for their early reflections and inputs.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the French philosopher Albert Camus once said “integrity has no need of rules”. We certainly need some rules, and we certainly need better rules, but Camus’ notion casts light on the importance of creating a culture of integrity; on the need to build a world in which we don’t need an OECD Integrity Week, because every week is integrity week.

 

We all leave this Forum armed with ever more innovative ideas and tools to fight corruption. They will help to renew our approach. This is all the more important because integrity in investment is not just an ethical requirement, but an economic imperative. Investing in integrity is investing in growth, it’s investing in a more prosperous, inclusive and fairer future for all.

 

Thank you.

 

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