The initiative to bring the private sector on board in our fight against corruption is a good decision and a step in the right direction.
Not to say that the private sector is corrupt, but the risks are increased when the private sector is involved. Corruption cannot happen alone, it is like needing two hands to clap. Experts believe that corruption in the private sector, in the form of bribery, undue influence, fraud and collusion could derail government and distort the market.
In developing countries like ours, where the majority of infrastructure is built by the private sector, the risks of safety and environmental damage are higher when corruption in the sector goes unchecked. Worse, it erodes confidence in public institutions.
Roping in the sector to fight the social ill is timely if not late. The country’s anti corruption rule applies to all, but by bringing them on the side of the battle to fight corruption they could play a bigger role.
Bringing them along is becoming more relevant as the sector is growing and so are the needs of the government. When we talk about private sector, the image of big businesses and industrialists comes to mind first. But it applies to business ranging from small enterprises to big business houses. If the concerns are of influence and bribery from big players, the growth and confidence of small businesses are affected when, for instance, a payment is delayed because a commission is not paid.
Despite our stringent anti corruption laws, we are not able to root out some established corrupt practices, whether in procurement, tendering or award of works. Many still say that it is still easier to get a job based on thuenlam (relationship) than capability of the participants
A majority of the private businesses depend on the government, whether for work or as clients. The risk becomes bigger when the dependence is higher. It would eventually leave no level playing field for the small enterprises. And this is at a time when thousands of jobseekers are now being asked to become job providers by joining the private sector.
We are not sure how much a business integrity portal and a business code of conduct would help the fight against corruption, but it is a good start. It is a proven fact in countries around the world that a corrupt private or corporate sector makes the government and the system pay.
Powerful businesses influencing governments is not new. We see it everywhere. We have laws that restrict businesses from funding political parties, but both business and parties know how to bend the rules. If big businesses start influencing government decisions, people will lose faith in the government, the country will lose credibility and we will fail as a nation.
Not letting that happen would be a great achievement and of that the private sector is equally responsible.