Improving Transparency and Anti-corruption
Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at the B20 Task Force on Anti-Corruption and Transparency
Los Cabos, Mexico, Sunday 17th June 2012
Minister Ríos, distinguished members of the B20 Task Force, ladies and gentlemen:
Business and Civil Society Leaders: Thank you for the opportunity to address you on such an important issue. I see many friends in the room.
The OECD and business and civil society - know each other very well, as we have worked in the fight against corruption side by side for many years.
For instance, business is an important part of the OECD anti-bribery reviews, in particular when conducting on-site visits. We have organised many workshops on foreign bribery for business, at your request.
In the context of the G20, the OECD is at heart of the anti-corruption work launched with the Seoul Action Plan almost two years ago.
We agree that this Action Plan already produced important results and that this work should continue; and it will. The Action Plan needs to be updated and the G20 Group’s mandate renewed. We expect this to be one of the outcomes of tomorrow’s Summit.
Our contributions to the G20 anti-corruption work have spanned from strengthening enforcement of foreign bribery laws to drawing G20 principles on asset disclosure or whistleblower protection, and making public procurement cleaner and more effective to fight solicitation.
More specifically on B20:
- We have organised with you – France last year and this year with Minister Ríos – joint government / business conferences;
- OECD officials have participated and contributed to the deliberations of your Task Force.
I have read with great interest your letter to the G20 Leaders and listened to your presentation in Puerto Vallarta.
On the issue of the enforcement of the legal framework, the OECD has been working on all fronts leveraging on the momentum generated by the G20 to engage with countries not yet Parties to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and to push Parties to step up their enforcement against foreign bribery.
As reported by the recent TI publication G20: the Anti-Corruption Record, important steps forward have been made:
- Russia has demonstrated its commitment to advance in this fight by joining the OECD Convention last February;
- We organised high-level conferences in Indonesia and India and we work closely with China on the implementation of their foreign bribery offence;
- Last July, the United Kingdom Bribery Act came into force, allowing the UK to be solidly equipped to fight bribery.
However, issues of level playing field remain. And, companies like yours are the first to suffer the repercussions of uneven enforcement in your daily operations around the world.
While enforcement is indeed a government’s prerogative; partnership with business remains crucial.
For this reason, I would like to make an operational proposal: the OECD will be happy to work with you and other international organisations to create, with the G20 countries, a space of dialogue on issues such as enforcement, solicitation, innovative tools to fight corruption, integrity pacts. A first meeting of this joint endeavour could take place next October, back to back with the meeting of the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group at the OECD Headquarters.
We also welcome the emphasis that the B20 has placed on public sector integrity, and more broadly, on the demand-side of corruption.
Starting with public procurement: Governments spend on average roughly 13 percent of their GDP on public procurement contracts.
The G20 work on public procurement, building on our Principles for Enhancing Integrity in Public Procurement, will help to prevent corruption in the entire procurement cycle. Efforts in the G20 anti-corruption working group to take concrete steps in that regard are underway. As you propose, regular independent assessments of their procurement systems will also help countries make the appropriate reforms.
The OECD has recently presented the results of the procurement review that Mexico carried out. Brazil and the US had already carried out such reviews last year.
The B20 has also rightfully focused on this issue. Their recommendations on procurement are ambitious and address the issue of solicitation as well. At the OECD, we have always been supportives of devising new tools in this area, such as the High Level Reporting Mechanism that you propose.
The B20 Recommendations reflect that business is taking this responsibility seriously, for example by helping SMEs in setting up compliance programmes. Building solid compliance programmes is indeed a starting point to any business efforts to resist corruption.
Let me conclude on a political note.
The OECD strongly believes that the momentum created by the G20 to boost countries and business’ efforts to make credible and concrete steps against corruption must be maintained.
As B20 suggests, and the TI report shows, areas such as illicit flows, business disclosure of taxes and other payments to governments, or sectoral initiatives for example in the organisation of major sports event, should be taken up in the next year.
To carry out the Seoul Action Plan and explore other areas, a solid partnership with business is key and we trust that the Russian Presidency will show great leadership to maintain this fruitful relationship. We will be happy to hear, in any format you choose, your ideas about a new Action Plan.
I wish you a successful Summit. Rest assured that the OECD will remain a close ally to business in the fight against corruption.