04 October 2007 | Paul Snell
Procurement is a "real hotspot" for tackling corruption in the public sector. The 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index was published last week by nongovernmental organisation Transparency International. It revealed more than 40 per cent of the 180 countries examined were perceived to have "rampant corruption" in the sector.
Burma, Somalia and Iraq were perceived as the most corrupt nations, with New Zealand, Denmark and Finland the least corrupt.
Huguette Labelle, chair of Transparency International, said effective procurement procedures were central to tackling the problems of bribery and corruption.
"In places where you have a huge reconstruction, such as Iraq, you need a very open and solid procedure with independent oversight at not just the bidding stage but also the implementation stage. It is an ample opportunity for leaking money and further bribery with subcontractors," she said.
She stressed the need for more accountability of public institutions: "Lowscoring countries [those regarded as most corrupt] need to take these results seriously."
While some countries, such as Kenya and Nigeria, have introduced procurement reforms this year, they have not had a big impact on their score. And high-scoring nations are accused of helping to maintain the status quo in other countries.
"[Corrupt behaviour] becomes systematic in multinationals because it is seen as the way of doing business," says Labelle. "They continue to feed corruption by paying large bribes to win contracts."