Statement of the Asian Development Bank

 

High-level Political Conference for the Purpose of Signing the United Nations Convention against

 Corruption

 

Mérida, Mexico

 11 December 2003

 

 

Mr. President, Delegates, Colleagues,

 

 

On behalf of the Asian Development Bank, it is a pleasure to be here. We appreciate the breadth of coverage in the Convention against Corruption.

 

We wish to express our gratitude to Mexico for hosting this Convention, as well as for her leadership over the past twenty months in hosting the UN Financing for Development Conference in Monterrey and the Fifth World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Cancun. These three topics -- development finance, trade, and anti-corruption -- are intertwined and critical for improving the lives of the world's citizens, but especially the poor. All nations have a role to play in each of these areas.

 

On corruption, malfeasance and misuse of scarce resources, whether in the public or the private sector, hinders economic and social development. Studies have shown that in Asia, governments pay between 20% and 100% more for goods and services due to corrupt practices. This most hurts the poor who rely on these services. It also imposes costly burdens on businesses and hinders economic growth and much needed job creation. Bribery and other unethical behavior undermine development. It is in the interest of all nations to act against corruption to promote prosperity.

 

Improved governance, including anti-corruption efforts, is a cornerstone of the Asian Development Bank's overall strategy for reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific. We are actively involved in a variety of activities that promote ethical behavior and fair transactions at the international, regional and national level. We are also making special efforts to ensure ADB projects, procurement activities and staff adhere to the highest ethical standards.

 

On international and regional efforts, two activities stand out. First is our partnership with the OECD in supporting the development and implementation of the Anti-corruption Action Plan for Asia-Pacific. Twenty-one developing and developed countries have endorsed this action plan and are making progress in meeting milestones for anti-corruption measures. These countries met for the fourth time in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last week (3 - 5 December, 2003). One important item discussed were strategies and assistance needed for implementing the UN Convention. A second regional effort is our technical assistance project in support of the Financial Action Task Force on money laundering. This regional project supports development of an Asia-Pacific plan to combat money laundering and gives special assistance to nine countries to meet international anti-money laundering standards.

 

At the national level, we are engaged in governance and anti-corruption issues with all 37 borrowing member countries of the ADB. In addition, we have a number of national and regional efforts in related areas, including corporate governance, rule of law, and fiscal management.

At the institutional level, the ADB has been looking within to ensure that ADB supported programs and projects are free from corruption. In the past five years, we have strengthened capacities and management systems within the ADB and in our projects. We have trained national government staff on international procurement and contracting procedures, increased the level of project auditing, and strengthened ADB resident office capacities. We have increased our cooperation with other multilateral development banks and international organizations, including conducting joint investigations and endorsing uniform standards for investigations. The Bank's management has also given a clear message that the highest ethical standards are expected of staff and contractors, and that nothing less will be tolerated.

 

In conclusion, we appreciate the leadership of the UN in bringing together the nations and bodies represented here. We look forward to increased involvement of the world community in ending the waste and misuse of public and private resources for development. We will continue to give priority to supporting the anti-corruption efforts of our developing member countries as they pursue better governance, and to working with UN and regional bodies in setting standards and measuring results.

 

Thank you.