Global co-ordination key to anti-corruption fight, says World Bank MD

15 Jun 16

Fighting corruption requires renewed global coordination and more effective mechanisms that make use of novel technology, information and opportunities for openness, the World Bank’s managing director and chief administrative officer has said.

Speaking at an event in France yesterday, Shaolin Yang said greater effort to implement international anti-corruption initiatives and stronger accountability and transparency, such as through public registers of beneficial ownership, will be key.

“Reducing corruption is a global and systemic issue,” he said. “How then can we think in a new and fresh way about how to address it more effectively?

“What has changed in the world is advances in technology and the availability of information and these give us important new tools in the fight against corruption.”

He said that clarity and transparency of public programmes and their intended results, developed in a way that involves citizens, can go “a long way”.

He pointed to how newspapers publishing the amount of designated resources to local schools in Uganda ensured money went where it was supposed to, and said “building public registries of the beneficial owners of companies is a vital tool in helping to reduce corruption”.

“Corruption is frequently the cause of the illicit flow of funds, which is facilitated by lack of information on the true owners of companies,” he stressed, applauding countries that have established public registers.

Governments should also insist on clarity over the true owners of companies involved in the implementation of public programmes and contracts, Yang continued, and emphasised the importance of open contracting as one of the newer and potentially “most effective” anti-corruption tools. 

“More information on contracts can help assure that services and projects are delivered at a reasonable cost and within a reasonable time frame... [as well as] help reduce the capture of the state, strengthen value for money and ultimately improve service delivery.”

Technology is another important aspect, he added, highlighting how electronic cash transfers have cut out corrupt middlemen, sped up payments and better ensured money gets to who is supposed to receive it.

Accountability mechanisms should work to bring different people together, Yang said, with individuals, civil society groups and communities able to participate in oversight and monitoring.

Different systems in the fight against corruption, from strong institutions, to asset recovery initiatives, should be brought together too in order to enhance their impact, he added.

“This includes the geo-tagging of public assets, to open contracting, to the creation of audit processes that bring together formal and non-traditional forms of auditing.”

He also pointed to the 70 countries in the world that have mechanisms requiring financial disclosure by public officials, which he said could yield much greater impact if linked with information from tax officials, company registries, real estate registries or if made public.

This will all require a “renewed and coordinated global effort”, he continued. While he said existing initiatives, including the UN Convention against Corruption, the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention of the Financial Action Task Force, are “fundamental”, he stressed “their promise will not be realised without greater focus on implementation”.

“We need to build on the work that has already been done in order to create more robust and effective mechanisms for addressing corruption,” Yang concluded. 

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