Corruption is not only an economic phenomenon affecting the growth of nations, it also undermines democracy. This was the opinion of Comptroller General of the Republic of Chile and Executive Secretary of OLACEFS Jorge Bermúdez, at the opening of the workshop “Digital Government, Integrity Policies and Corruption Prevention Mechanisms in APEC Economies”, held this Wednesday, February 27, in the city of Santiago de Chile.
The activity was held in the context of APEC 2019 working meetings (What is APEC?). It was organized by Chile’s Office of the Public Prosecutor, which leads the activities of the APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency Working Group.
At the inauguration of the activity, Mr. Bermúdez said that corruption was like a cancer that undermines democracy, currently the best form of government we know and the only one where human rights are respected. To tackle corruption, he said, three basic elements needed be considered – Preventive action, where Supreme Audit Institutions play a fundamental role; Collaboration, through strengthening institutions and the ethical standard of the private sector, because shortcomings in integrity have two faces – the public, which allows itself to be corrupted, and the private, which seeks to seize advantage. The third element is part of the fundamental work of external control, which “must be preventive, concomitant and also ex post. Bermúdez said that oversight, despite the resistance to it, is essential for the validity of integrity.
Session 3 of the workshop was called “Best practices in controlling and/or supervising corruption acts through transparency systems to promote social accountability”, which in addition to Comptroller Bermúdez was attended by Comptroller General of Peru and President of OLACEFS Nelson Shack, and the representative of the UNODC, Candice Welsh.
The presentation by Comptroller Shack centred on the new focus of government oversight being implented by SAIs through real-time or concurrent oversight, which, through risk assessment and with the support of multidisciplinary teams allows corrupt acts and the misuse of public resource to be anticipated. He also highlighted the transparency policy being implemented by CGR-Peru, which is publishing all its audit reports, once they have been officially issued, as well as offering friendly access to information on oversight to citizens, who act as an ally in the process of government control.
The Chilean Comptroller meanwhile spoke about Chile’s anti-corruption strategies, highlighting the use of data analysis and Big Data as important tools for oversight. In addition, he stressed the need to upgrade the traditional communication model to one more geared towards the current language (verbal, written and visual), which the CGR-Chile has recently pursued in its approach of citizens as allies in the fight against corruption. Here he also highlighted efforts, beyond legal obligations, that his SAI has been carrying out in terms of transparency, through the creation of a proactive transparency website that makes the budgetary management of the institution public, along with details on how the annual budget is spent.
Session 5 of the workshop, on Digital Government, was also attended by a representative of our regional organization, as it was moderated by Osvaldo Rudloff, head of International Cooperation and Relations at the Chilean Comptroller’s Office and Executive Director of OLACEFS.
One of the principal conclusions of the workshop organized by APEC’s Anticorruption and Transparency Working Group was that transparency itself is not enough. There is a current need to foster integrity within institutions, as well as apply training to reduce crimes being committed due to a lack of awareness and training amongst officials. At the end of the event the main challenges where work needed to be continued were set out, which relate to the current landscape and the loss of confidence expressed by people regarding both private and state companies as a result of recent corruption cases.
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