World Bank to cut corruption in developing countries

The World Bank has launched a comprehensive anti-corruption initiative, which
will use auditing and accounting procedures to drive graft out of developing
countries in general, and its own aid projects in particular.

Bank president Paul Wolfowitz announced the plan at a speech in Indonesia,
displaying some the zeal he displayed at the Pentagon, only this time in
fighting financial crime rather than Saddam Hussein.

‘Corruption is often at the very root of why governments don’t work,’ said
Wolfowitz. ‘It weakens the systems and distorts the markets. In the end,
governments and citizens will pay a price in lower incomes, lower investment and
more volatile economic swings.’

The plan will see more World Bank money feeding into good governance and
anti-corruption measures, which could involve expert accountants and auditors.

These would include loans, grants, research and technical assistance in areas
such as judicial and civil service reform; boosting local media and freedom of
information; and decentralising public service delivery.

Wolfowitz added: ‘When governments do work — when they tackle corruption and
improve their rule of law — they can raise their national incomes by as much as
four times.’

With this in mind, he said the bank would implement a new system minimising
corruption in World Bank-funded projects.

Anti-corruption teams will be deployed in country offices to work with local
government institutions – such as audit units and anti-corruption commissions –
protecting bank-supported projects and strengthening public procurement systems.

Bank officials will also develop anti-corruption strategies for specific aid
projects, publishing these on the internet. And the bank will also boost its own
corruption investigation unit with more staff, skills and resources ‘to detect
fraud and to follow up on allegations of corruption in bank-financed projects,
particularly on high-risk projects’, said a programme memorandum.

The bank will expand partnerships with other groups interested in improving
governance, working especially with rich countries to prevent stolen cash being
moved to bank accounts under their jurisdiction.

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