International donors should take all possible steps to prevent corruption and diversion of aid from its intended recipients in tsunami-stricken regions in the Indian Ocean, said Transparency International (TI), the leading global non-governmental organisation devoted to combating corruption, today.
Commenting on the risk of corruption in the reconstruction effort, Chairman of TI Ireland, Colm McCarthy has said that “the private sector, local governments and international donors have to properly account for expenditure and work to an open tendering system. This is needed to avoid waste and ensure safety and quality standards in the construction process.”
TI has also called on Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern and the heads of the main Irish aid agencies to convey the need for transparency in the delivery of aid and reconstruction during their visit to the affected region. “The Irish government and NGO community have a major role to play in campaigning for public tendering systems in the aftermath of this disaster. Recent examples, including Iraq, show there’s a need for openness in reconstruction. ” added McCarthy.
TI believes that dedicated disaster relief and reconstruction efforts should be subject to effective monitoring, such as the donation-tracking scheme announced by the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland. The emphasis throughout the coming months should be on providing maximum access to information about both sources and expenditure of funds.
Independent monitoring of aid disbursement and project implementation is essential.
Civil society organisations in Indonesia and Sri Lanka and other recipient countries should be part of the monitoring process. Such organisations should also promote public participation in decisions about aid allocation and project design. The military should be subject to the same scrutiny as other public bodies and relief organisations.
Governments must also consider the vulnerabilities of different aid pathways. “Debt relief is no substitute for effectively targeted disaster relief and expert assistance in the worst-affected areas,” said Peter Rooke, TI’s Regional Director for Asia-Pacific. “To the extent that debt relief is given, experience shows that, as with direct budgetary support to governments, it makes most sense where a government has made a major commitment to high governance standards, in particular budget transparency, and to civil society monitoring of expenditure allocation,” he said.
TI Sri Lanka has issued a call for politicians, both government and opposition, and all Sri Lanka’s communities to unite together around a “national strategy on relief distribution and reconstruction to be planned and implemented with the participation of all sectors, and the effort should be properly co-ordinated to achieve optimum benefits to the victims and affected areas”. It has offered the President of Sri Lanka its assistance in efforts to ensure transparency and accountability. TI Indonesia is also very involved in the emergency operation undertaken by the Coalition of Indonesian NGOs for Humanitarian Operation in Aceh, including establishing a management system for operations in the western coast of Aceh.