The Costs of Corruption

Article excerpt

WE have seen the many and varied faces of corruption. Because it is so prevalent in our society, our collective normal reaction to it has always been one of resignation. We raise our arms in surrender and declare its part of our way of life and we cant do anything about it.

Have we reached the point where we can no longer defeat corruption?

Extinguishing corruption was the subject of the recent conference on Financing Politics, Curbing Corruption and Parliamentary Ethics that I attended in the United Kingdom. The conference gathered choice parliamentarians around the world in a continuous effort to find ways to combat corruption on a global scale. It was sponsored by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), where I sit as the Asian representative.

Conference participants agree that corruption occurs in all corners of the world and takes many forms. The depth and breadth of corruption is so extensive that it costs, on a global scale, an estimated $1.5 trillion a year or about five percent of the worlds trade. Prevalent worldwide is the corruption in awarding business contracts that result to social, political and economic costs. These costs exact a high price on the poor by denying them access to vital basic services.

Corruption, therefore, is one of the main reasons why we suffer from utter lack of schools and hospitals. Why there are few roads and bridges and those already constructed are substandard. In short, our country is underdeveloped and remains so due to corruption. The World Bank has estimated that our government had lost some US $48 billion on corruption over the last 20 years. Though there are several agencies engaged in fighting corruption, the Department of Budget and Management estimates that about P25 billion is lost yearly due to corrupt procurement of public goods and services.

If the country lacks stability, you can also blame corruption for it. …