Transparency at the core of governance: Labelle - CNBC Africa

Transparency at the core of governance: Labelle


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Man hiding money in his pocket. PHOTO: Getty Images

“Every country has improvement to be made. No one region has the monopoly on great transparency. If I look at Western Europe, countries of the northern part of Western Europe for example, [they] have had a tradition where the rule of law works,” Transparency International chair Huguette Labelle told CNBC Africa during the 44th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“[This is also] where transparency is much greater and where the openness of government has made it much easier for the people to get involved, and for the people to trust their government, because they see what they have there.”

Labelle added that regions such as Latin America, which had for a long time been perceived to be corrupt, have made noteworthy changes. Countries like Chile have also considerably improved on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.

National governments in the region have also gone to administrative lengths to institutionalise transparency within and outside of government.

“Brazil has been doing some very interesting work in the last few years under the current presidency, where every department of the federal government must publish every day, by midnight, all revenues and disbursements,” Labelle said.

“North America in itself is really somewhat three different countries. Although you have – especially in the United States and Canada – a longer tradition of transparency, but still some measures to be taken in all the countries.”

In the case of Africa, Labelle explained that Botswana had consistently been at the top 30 on the Corruption Perception Index, with the country’s leadership having made significant changes to institutionalise transparency.

“When you look at the countries in Africa or anywhere else, what matters is the strength of the leadership, the commitment not just at election time, but after. The legal framework that is there, but especially whether it’s enforced or not, because that’s where one of the big problems remain,” Labelle added.

“Also, giving themselves measures whereby you just don’t publish revenues once a year. [It should] be available in a timelier basis, and where the people are encouraged to say no when they are asked for a bribe.”

Labelle additionally called upon governments to encourage their communities to participate in instances such as the country’s budgeting process and programme delivery to ensure that they are relevant to citizens’ needs.

“A lot of the procurement of the construction takes place locally. A lot of the essential services take place locally. So we say national governments, do your homework, but make sure that the state level and the local level, where services are delivered, [where there is] a lot of room for bribery there, that this does not take place so that there is money to give the services to the people,” said Labelle.