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Speech at the International Anticorruption Day Celebration
Speech by ADB President Takehiko Nakao at the International Anticorruption Day Celebration on 9 December 2013 held in Manila, Philippines
Good morning distinguished guests, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. It is my pleasure to be with you to celebrate International Anticorruption Day 2013. Your presence shows that you attach as much importance as I do to the fight against corruption, and to the role of good governance in ensuring inclusive development.
I would like to welcome our two outstanding keynote speakers: the head of leading health NGO Heartfile and former Federal Minister of Pakistan, Dr. Sania Nishtar; and Philippine Congresswoman, the Honorable Leonor Robredo. Both have distinguished themselves through their advocacy of policies to strengthen transparency and accountability in government. We are privileged that they are here to share their inspirational work with us today.
As you know, International Anticorruption Day marks the adoption in 2003 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Almost all countries in Asia and the Pacific have ratified the Convention. By doing so, they have obligated themselves to adopt and implement policies that prevent and penalize corruption.
II. CORRUPTION HITS POOR THE HARDEST
Why is this important? We all know that rampant corruption hinders development. Public resources are diverted to the pockets of corrupted individuals from needed investments in transport, energy, health and education. Petty corruption, such as service providers asking for bribes or simply not reporting to work, should not be tolerated.
Corruption especially harms the poor: they are the ones most in need of the public goods but they cannot obtain services just because they cannot pay a bribe.
ADB's recent Asian Development Outlook 2013 Update confirms that reducing corruption and improving governance and public service delivery are important for growth and development. The study found that controlling corruption is one of the indicators most highly correlated with better development outcomes.
III. IMPROVING GOVERNANCE AND TACKLING CORRUPTION THROUGH PROGRAMS
This is why ADB helps our developing member countries improve governance and tackle corruption. First, our Governance Policy recognizes that supporting improved governance in our developing member countries is one of the central aspects of our work in promoting inclusive development. Second, our Anticorruption Policy calls on us to ensure that ADB operations are free of corruption.
On the first issue, I have just signed ADB's review about how we can strengthen the implementation of the Second Governance and Anticorruption Action Plan, known as GACAP II. GACAP II calls for operations staff to thoroughly diagnose governance and corruption risks in all ADB-financed programs and projects. Most importantly, it compels us to consider how ADB can directly support reforms and develop capacity to address these risks. For example, we support the strengthening of key integrity systems through reforms to countries' procurement and financial management systems, and capacity development of state audit institutions and anticorruption authorities.
We also help our developing member countries fight corruption through our support of the ADB/OECD Anticorruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific. This is the oldest and largest anticorruption network in the region, made up of policy makers and anticorruption authorities from 31 member jurisdictions. The group meets annually to share experiences, learn from peers and experts, and develop channels for cross-border cooperation.
IV. PREVENTING CORRUPTION IN ADB OPERATIONS AND ADMINISTRATION
On the second issue, we work hard to ensure that our own operations are free of corruption. We do this through our human resource policies, our training programs, and our project administration procedures.
Our staff works under a comprehensive code of conduct, and all staff members are required to complete Annual Declarations of Compliance. ADB's Whistleblower Policy requires staff to report suspected integrity violations to the Office of Anticorruption and Integrity, or OAI. OAI has continued its iACT campaign, which raises awareness of our professional obligation and personal responsibility to prevent fraud and corruption in all ADB-related activities.
Expanding on these efforts, the Operations Services and Financial Management Department, or OSFMD, has recently implemented a comprehensive accreditation program to upgrade staff members' skills in overseeing project procurement. It has also created checklists to help staff monitor fiduciary obligations of ADB and its borrowers.
I have instructed OAI to strengthen training of our field office staff members, who are on the front lines in monitoring and implementing ADB projects and programs.
In the spirit of iACT, OAI and the Regional and Sustainable Development Department last week held several learning events leading up to this International Anticorruption Day. In these events, ADB staff members shared how they personally contribute to fighting corruption. These sessions highlighted staff members' efforts to mainstream governance in ADB operations, the role of resident missions in supporting the anticorruption work of DMCs, and OSFMD's efforts in procurement and financial management oversight. I thank everyone involved for your efforts.
Colleagues, we can take pride in our accomplishments. I would like to commend all staff members for vigilance and dedication to the fight against corruption. At the same time, we recognize that we can do more. I call on all staff members to renew our focus on governance as a driver of change and sustainable development. I also call on each of you to redouble your efforts in ensuring that the integrity of ADB operations is upheld.
When we act together, we can make a difference in this fight against corruption, for the lasting benefit of the people ADB serves.