Afghanistan ‘must reform purchasing’

25 January 2010

25 January 2010 | Isabel Palmer

Afghanistan must promote transparency in public procurement to stamp out corruption and improve national security, the United Nations (UN) has said.

A report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) detailed fraud in the Afghan authorities and showed that those entrusted with upholding the law are seen as most guilty of violating it.

Antonio Maria Costa (pictured), executive director of UNODC, called for new rules for public tenders and political campaigns, as well as tighter regulation of Afghanistan’s financial institutions.

Costa urged Afghan president Hamid Karzai to turn the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption into an “independent, fearless and well funded anti-corruption authority”.

He said that public officials should be vigorously vetted and forced to disclose their income and assets. In addition, governors and local administrators "with proven records of collusion with shady characters" should be removed.

“Corruption is the biggest impediment to improving security, development and governance in Afghanistan. It is also enabling other forms of crime – like drug trafficking and terrorism,” Costa said.

The report was published ahead of this week’s international conference on Afghanistan in London, where tackling corruption in public procurement is likely to be discussed.

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