The ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific

Speech | 9 September 2009

Welcome remarks by Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, ADB Vice President, at the Regional Seminar on the Political Economy of Corruption, Manila, Philippines

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, and Colleagues. Good morning

On behalf of the ADB and our partners at the OECD, it is my privilege to welcome you to this Regional Seminar on Political Economy of Corruption. Some of you may remember that ADB and OECD jointly organized a workshop on Combating Corruption in Asian and Pacific Economies at the ADB headquarters in Manila in September 1999. This was the year the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative has been established as a regional network for the benefit of officials from member countries and jurisdictions to engage in coordinated and systematic actions in the fight against corruption. Today, I am delighted to welcome the members of the Initiative to ADB Headquarters on its 'tenth anniversary'.

The Initiative has contributed to a productive decade of partnership and collaboration in the fight against corruption. The Initiative's Anti-Corruption Action Plan has supported concrete and meaningful actions to deter, prevent and combat corruption at all levels. It has supported the objectives of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in Asia-Pacific. ADB continues to give very high priority to our association with the Initiative. We believe that the on-going independent review will result in making it more relevant and results-oriented and more responsive to the needs of the member countries. As we have done in the past, it is very important that, when deciding the future direction and agenda of the Initiative, we have an open minded and insightful discussion in a true partnership spirit.

I understand that this is the first time that the Initiative's regional seminar will be discussing corruption from a political economy perspective, and that this is at the request of the members. Corruption is a multidimensional phenomenon, and anticorruption practitioners will benefit from better understanding its political economy dimensions. The political economy analysis of anti-corruption reforms will allow understanding of formal and informal dimensions of economic and political processes that are likely to affect the successful implementation of anticorruption programs. More importantly for the members of the Initiative, the political economic analysis can contribute to improving the independence, accountability, transparency, and overall performance of integrity institutions.

An enabling environment for improving independence and accountability of anti-corruption agencies is a necessity for an effective fight against corruption. Articles 6 and 36 of United Nations Convention Against Corruption specifically mention that State Parties should grant preventive and law enforcement anti-corruption bodies the necessary independence and the resources to carry out their functions and responsibilities. The effective implementation of UNCAC at the country level will require pro-active support of legislature, judiciary, executive and related public and private authorities. I am pleased to note that the seminar will discuss various approaches to promoting the independence and accountability of integrity institutions, including the contribution of international legal instruments.

A great deal of effort has gone into improving governance in the past decade. However, the overall quality of governance globally, according to the 2009 Worldwide Governance Indicators, has not improved significantly, in spite of the fact that many developing countries are making important gains in control of corruption. Corruption remains a major impediment to development. The World Bank estimates that corruption amounts to 5 percent of the world economy, or over $1.5 trillion. Bribery remains common in many countries, totaling about $1 trillion globally every year. Studies also show that corruption can cost up to 17 percent of a country's gross domestic product.

Within the Asia and the Pacific region, there is a growing consensus on the need of anti-corruption programs in the national development planning process. Several countries in the region have recognized the need to review and strengthen their legislation, institutions, practices and systems to meet the standards set by the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the UN Convention against Corruption. In response to this need, the Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific was launched in 1999. ADB's engagement in the Initiative is an integral part of our overall program on governance. ADB's Long-Term Strategic Framework for 2008 to 2020, or Strategy 2020, reaffirms our focus on good governance for development. Governance is identified as one of the key 'drivers of change' to stimulate sustainable development and to synergize broader development assistance. ADB will put emphasis on mainstreaming the elements of good governance in its operations and activities, and anti-corruption efforts will be linked to broader support for governance and improvement in the quality and capacities of the public sector. ADB will utilize the international framework embodied in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption to focus on initiatives and systems that emphasize corruption prevention.

Let me briefly guide you through our agenda for the next two days in which we hope that you will gain a general understanding of political economy issues and the political economy of corruption and how this would impact on your day-to-day work. In particular the issues of independence, accountability and political interference will be covered. The seminar will discuss approaches for strengthening the independence of integrity institutions and the importance of international legal instruments in preventing political interferences in anticorruption efforts. In this morning session, we will have the privilege of having Mme. Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International deliver the key note address on the theme 'Anticorruption and the Sustainable Development Agenda'. Starting from this afternoon, several case studies and group work on political economic analysis will be organized to facilitate discussion on real events, exchange of experiences, and mutual learning as requested by the member countries during the Macao seminar of 25-26 March 2009. The case study sessions will guide the use of tools such as stakeholder analysis, power mapping, and coalition building and help participants understand the advantages of building effective strategies for working with allies to strengthen institutional independence. In addition, during the next two days we will have the privilege of hearing from experts of the World Bank, Transparency International, Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, UNODC and OECD, and from senior officials of Australia, Bangladesh, the Cook Islands, Mongolia, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Philippines during the panel sessions.

I hope that the seminar will help support constructive policy dialogue and developments to strengthen the independence and accountability of integrity institutions in our member countries and jurisdictions. I would also like to commend the fruitful partnership between the Initiative's member countries and the international development partners in working together to achieve the common goal of fighting corruption. On behalf of ADB, I would like to express our appreciation to the OECD for its committed partnership in and the contribution to the Initiative.

Once again, I would like to welcome you all to ADB and thank you all for being here today. I wish you very fruitful deliberations over the next two days.

Thank you.