Germany's development ministry wants to fight corruption. It has proposed linking aid to transparency for all projects conducted in countries with high corruption risks.
Corruption is one of the biggest impediments to a country's development. Wherever corruption has been rampant, resources have often been wasted or misdirected, and investors deterred. This, in turn, has meant the economic and social development of countries also is hampered and poverty increased. Berlin-based NGO Transparency International estimates that each year between 20 to 40 billion US dollars are lost to corruption in developing countries and emerging economies.
This week, the State Secretary of Germany's Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Hans Jürgen Beerfeltz, presented the new anti-corruption strategy for aid. Beerfeltz called corruption one of the biggest brakes on a country's development. "We need both a strong civil society, as well as a strong business sector, which work towards this aim both in Germany and in partner countries," he said.
German Federal Ministry for Development Co-operation Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz wants more transparency initiatives
Creating clear structures
In situations where there are very few opportunities to work together with governments to create sustainable developmental programs, said Beerfeltz, other partnerships must be created, such as at the regional level or with non-government organizations.
"In Uganda, for instance, simple transparency initiatives have been successful. A lot of money used to vanish in the education sector, in the process of it being transferred from the national government to the schools in the countryside. That's no longer the case now," Beerfeltz said. He added that each school now knows exactly what amount of money it should receive. And since parents and teachers are now aware, less money vanishes. "That's a very cheap, but simple means of fighting corruption effectively," he said.
Civil society organizations and the media will get more support in uncovering and fighting corruption. Making corruption public has been the practical initiative of several schools in Honduras. Many teachers who are on the school's pay roll don't actually work, which prompted citizens to start-up a "transparency blackboard." These public postings of figures on school finances, teachers' wages and school operations have proven to be very effective.
Linking aid to transparency
In the future, every project planned for developing countries will from the very outset, determine strategies for how corruption, embezzlement and personal advantages can be avoided and discouraged. Transparency International Germany chairperson Edda Müller has praised the initiative as a step in the right direction.
But theory isn't always the same when put into practice. And good ideas aren't always enough - more needs to be done to actually improve the situation in countries with high corruption rates. That's why Müller's organization is demanding "more transparency in revenues paid to governments of countries exporting raw materials."
Müller added that often money paid to governments, such as in areas of health and education, doesn't benefit the local population, but rather ends flows into private hands instead.
Transparency International Germany chairperson Edda Müller wants Germany to ratify the UN-anti-corruption convention
Putting ideas into reality
Only a few months ago, the German government signed a so-called “energy and raw materials partnership" with Angola - a country that ranks very high in the global corruption index. Müller criticized the partnership and the German government's failure to mention the problem of corruption in this context. "We would have preferred that the principles of development co-operation, as they have been laid down here, are also part of such contracts," she said.
"Germany transfers a considerable amount of aid to such countries, but it doesn't ensure that the wealth in resources also benefits the people and development of a country."
Müller demanded that Germany ratify the UN-anti-corruption convention. Even though Germany signed the agreement in 2003, the convention has not been implemented into national law.
State secretary Beerfeltz encouraged Germany to ratify the convention by the end of 2013.
Author: Sabine Ripperger / cl
Editor: Anke Rasper