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Bribery and corruption

Presentation of the OECD Integrity Review of Mexico

 

Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

11 January 2017

Mexico City, Mexico

(as prepared for delivery)

 

 

Dear Secretary Arely Gómez, Ambassador Pérez-Jácome, Deputy Secretaries, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is a great pleasure to be here with you today to present the OECD review of Mexico’s integrity policies, especially now that the National Anticorruption System has been approved and the Local Anticorruption Systems are about to be established in the federative entities and municipalities.

 

I would like to thank the Secretary of the Civil Service, Arely Gómez, and the entire team from the Civil Service Secretariat and the Government of Mexico for this excellent collaboration. My thanks go out as well to the various government organisations and the civil society experts who took part in the study. This is an example of how the challenges facing Mexico need to be addressed: with a decisive and committed government, with civil society participation, and with the support of an international organisation that has broad experience in the subject.

 

Combating corruption is a priority for Mexico

 

We all know that corruption is a cancer, whether in Mexico or in any other country. It undermines the economic system, it destroys social cohesion and it erodes our people's trust in government, in democracy, and in the market economy. According to the annual report of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO), Mexico loses around 5% of its GDP to corruption and impunity every year.

 

Mexico needs to embark on a national campaign against corruption. Approval of the National Anticorruption System (SNA) is an important step forward in this regard. The SNA, together with the package of supplementary legislation, introduces a series of innovative tools that can be highly effective in combating corruption. For example:

  • A new structure of governance for anticorruption policies, covering government at all levels, that truly emphasizes contribution of civil society through a Citizen Participation Committee. This will be crucial in ensuring closer supervision of the functioning of the SNA and promoting achievement of its objectives.
     
  • The introduction of new codes of conduct and ethics committees throughout the federal government, which will have to communicate clearly the integrity values that are shared by the entire public administration, and that are today concentrated only in a few high-risk activities, such as public procurement;
     
  • Stricter requirements of disclosure and publicity for public servants, which now include not only financial assets and liabilities but also interests that could lead to situations of conflict.
     
  • A simplified administrative disciplinary regime that places greater emphasis on the investigation and punishment of serious misconduct;
     
  • Of course there are many other associated initiatives, such as the online Digital Platform, which will emerge as a result of the SNA.

 

These new weapons for combating corruption and promoting integrity reflect a firmer stance with respect to a problem that has long afflicted the country. And of course the success of this new system will depend on how effectively its provisions are implemented. It is precisely on this challenge that we have focused this review.

 

The Review of Integrity Policies

 

Our team spent nearly 18 months, in collaboration with the Civil Service Secretariat, in carrying out the Review of Integrity Policies. This was an intense effort that involved conducting interviews with public servants and representatives of civil society in Mexico, as well as three workshops on public ethics, institutional design and internal control. The study presents an analysis on topics such as integrity in society, managing conflicts of interest, protecting whistle-blowers, the disciplinary regime, public ethics, internal control and risk management, and more than 60 concrete proposals for action. Allow me to mention four that we consider of key importance:

  • Strengthening the coherence of integrity policies. To achieve this will require improvements not only in horizontal coordination among public institutions but also in the vertical flows within each agency. The requirement that each institution must establish its own plans for combating corruption will help ensure that this commitment permeates all levels of the hierarchy. Coordination and collaboration among the various levels of government will also be crucial. The states will have to comply with the new legislation. It will also be essential to involve civil society organisations in a formal way.
     
  • Developing a culture of integrity. While new and stricter laws and regulations are needed to promote integrity, experience in other OECD countries has shown that merely having such provisions on the books is not enough to guarantee compliance and to develop an appreciation of integrity as an essential value. To establish a true culture of integrity that respects those standards will require more systematic consultation, broader involvement by civil society and public servants, the design of integrity codes targeted at young people in the schools, and more effective protection for those who report irregularities
     
  • Strengthening the lines of defence against corruption. Public servants at the management level, internal controllers and auditors are on the firing line in the war against corruption. While the reforms have modernised and strengthened risk management and internal control policies, they must be backed by a greater degree of professionalism in the public service – a major outstanding issue – and the development of capacities to foster genuine commitment and to prevent internal control from being seen as just another administrative burden.
     
  • Enforcing the integrity system. The anticorruption reforms run the risk of losing credibility if they allow corrupted officials and businesses to enjoy impunity. Bringing corruption cases to a successful conclusion would be facilitated by giving investigators greater access to the financial and tax information needed for their work, and producing better information on the new classification of cases and the performance of the disciplinary regime.

 

Madam Secretary, Ladies and Gentlemen, with this crusade against corruption, with these new laws, with this new culture of integrity that we are striving to build, we can lay the basis for what will be the most important transformation in Mexico's recent history. But the hard work is just beginning. We need now to translate the letter of the law into a wide-ranging change of institutional conduct and culture.

 

The OECD will continue to support Mexico in implementing these reforms, and in monitoring their progress by means of a follow-up report next year.

 

Together we can win this battle! Many thanks.

 

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