BEIJING, PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA - One third of public investment is being lost through corruption in Asia and the Pacific, an ADB Vice-President told a major conference in Beijing.
Giving welcoming remarks on Wednesday to the 5th Regional Anti-Corruption Conference for Asia and Pacific, Geert van der Linden said that that while progress is being made on the issue, it is slow progress.
"Corruption has a devastating effect on the poor, robbing them of needed services and depleting their assets and incomes through scandalous rents," the VP told the conference, organized under an ADB/OECD Anticorruption Initiative for the region.
"Corruption also increases the cost of doing business, and keeps countries from achieving their economic growth and employment potential."
There are encouraging signs, however. Mr. van der Linden cited that the number of countries endorsing an ADB/OECD regional action plan to fight corruption has grown from 17 in 2001, to 25 this year. Also, a growing number of countries in the region are implementing new anti-corruption measures.
"However, despite significant efforts, legal gaps, loopholes and institutional weaknesses remain as barriers to progress," he said. "Legislation in many countries does not yet extend to areas such as foreign bribery or political corruption, and regulations are too often ambiguous. Furthermore, not enough attention has been paid to reforming the law enforcement agencies, whose cooperation is essential to the success of anti-corruption agencies."
He added that building capacities and partnerships across the region is crucial to address such ongoing challenges. And in a global age, partnerships - including with civil society - are important to combat corruption.
"Given the complexities of the global age, corruption cannot be handled through stand-alone efforts," Mr. van der Linden said. "This battle requires state of the art knowledge and tools and, above all, firm resolve. Judging by the commitment of the 25 member countries, we can be optimistic that progress will continue."
The Beijing anti-corruption conference for Asia and the Pacific, which closes today, is the fifth in a series of regional conferences organized by the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative. The conference aims to strengthen regional cooperation, foster the exchange of knowledge and experience, and build synergies and networks among concerned stakeholders.
Since its inception in 1999, the ADB/OECD Initiative has been a pioneer in the fight against corruption in the Asia-Pacific region and continues to take a leading role in supporting countries' efforts to formulate and implement effective, sustainable anti-corruption measures.