Opening remarks by OECD Deputy Secretary-General Richard Boucher, 28 September 2011

 

'Building Multidisciplinary Frameworks to Combat Corruption': 7th Regional Anti-Corruption Conference of the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific


Hosted by the Government of India

 

New Delhi, 28 September 2011

 

Madam President, Ministers, Excellences, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be here today with you to open this extraordinary gathering devoted to stopping corruption.

 

I am particularly honored to share this platform with Her Excellence Srimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India. Your presence is testimony to the commitment at the highest levels to explore new and better ways to fight corruption. We thank you and the government of India for hosting us and for organizing this conference.

 

You have assembled an impressive group of high-ranking representatives for our discussions. Special thanks go to the colleagues sharing this podium this morning:  Minister Narayanasamy, Secretary Sirohi, and Additional Secretary Sarkar.

 

I would also like to acknowledge our partner, the AsianDevelopment Bank, and thank Mr. Zhao for his remarks.  

 

This is the seventh Conference we have held in the past twelve years with the Asian Development Bank to strengthen the legal and institutional frameworks against corruption in this region.

 

Today we have 28 members. We welcome each and every one of you.

 

India plays an important role in this effort, as one of Asia's and the world's largest economies, with impressive growth and yet many challenges.

 

The movement sweeping India and indeed sweeping the world to expose and punish corruption offers hope. We're here to identify what we can do to satisfy the demands of our citizens for fairness, efficiency, and equality in government and business.

 

For bribery and corruption are steal from them. They steal especially from the poorest, those who can't pay or can't protest. The corrupt steal hospitals from sick children, roads and water from poor farmers, education from young students hungry to learn.

 

With determination we can change the culture of tolerance. No more should anyone ask for a bribe, nor should anyone have to pay.

 

At the OECD, we are bringing together the whole tool kit of steps governments and business can deploy. We call this initiative cleangovbiz, and it is based on existing tools, tools to improve government systems and corporate practices, the open up transparency, and help implement the UN Convention Against Corruption and the OECD Anti-bribery convention.

 

Let me cite some examples:

  • By simplifying regulations, governments can eliminate the unnecessary steps, forms and procedures that become the excuse for bribes.
  • By improving transparency in public procurement – which is often more than 15% of the national income – we can make sure citizens get value for their tax money. Especially important are tools to fight bid rigging and encourage whistleblowing.
  • The integrity of public officials can be safeguarded through disclosures and merit based systems of performance.
  • Clarity in taxes and budgets shows citizens know what's happening to their money, and what is their due in terms of government services.
  • Good corporate practices can ensure that there are no givers of bribes as well as no takers, and reduce the corporate exposure that comes from sloppy or bad practices.
  • Empowered prosecutors can go after those responsible, no matter what their position or affiliation.
  • Good laws against foreign bribery are essential. Bribery is not acceptable –not here, not anywhere. Under the OECD convention, interlocking laws help clean up international business and ensure that lawbreakers can't hide in the cracks between borders. We look forward to passage of the law against foreign bribery now pending in the Indian parliament.
  • In all these aspects, citizen involvement – through the media, civil society groups and through the ballot box – is absolutely essential. Transparency works when people are paying attention. 

 

All these tools can contribute to stopping bribery. We'll discuss many of them in more detail over the next day or so.

 

Underlying the effort, has to be the determination shown by passing the laws, finding the flaws and taking action to hold leaders accountable and to expose corruption.

 

We admire the Indian citizens and others, in government, in business and in the streets, who are taking up this challenge.

 

All of us are gathered here as partners. All of us can contribute.

 

In the end, the goal is to make sure our economic progress benefits all in our societies, to ensure that prosperity spreads and all citizens benefit.

 

The OECD works with India on inclusive growth. Fighting corruption is a key aspect for all of us, and a constant struggle for all of us.

 

At the OECD, we call it “better policies for better lives.”

 

So for all of you who have brought your determination and your expertise to this conference, I welcome you and thank you for your contribution to this effort.