Corruption, bribery, theft, tax evasion, and other illicit financial flows cost developing countries $1.26 trillion per year. That is roughly the combined size of the economies of Switzerland, South Africa and Belgium, and enough money to lift 1.4 billion people who live on less than $1.25 a day above the poverty threshold and keep them there for at least six years.
Corruption has truly become a global challenge, with no country being immune to it. It negatively affects people, communities and entire nations. It also undermines democratic processes, reinforces injustice, and increases poverty. Furthermore, it weakens the essential public services, raises the cost of doing business and undercuts investment in development. In sum, corruption adversely affects all three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.
In the times like COVID-19 pandemic that has affected all countries, the negative impact of corruption gets manifested and becomes obvious. COVID-19 has exposed vulnerabilities in health systems and public service delivery throughout the world as myriad cases of misuse of public funds, lax contracting processes and maladministration have come to light.
Kazakhstan has sustained its efforts to combat corruption and gradually shifts towards preventative measures. Ratification of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2008 is an important milestone in this process. Having joined GRECO in 2019, Kazakhstan once again confirmed its strong intention to promote integrity in public and private sectors and put more constraints on corruption. In 2019, Kazakhstan improved its ranking in the global Corruption Perception Index from 124 in 2018 to 113 out of 198 countries.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kazakh government, business sector and civil society came together to apply preventive measures, quickly switching to remote work, and prioritizing health by minimizing face-to-face interaction. A lot of effort has been taken by central and local governments along with the public monitoring groups to ensure a fair distribution of medical and other supplies, and to protect the rights of those in need.
Corruption prevention is a growing area of UNDP’s engagement in many countries around the world. Our global initiatives help create corruption free environment through legislative changes, advancing accountability frameworks and harnessing new technologies.
In Kazakhstan UNDP has been a long-term partner tо the Anticorruption Agency, and has supported a number of important initiatives, such as introduction of ethics institutions in civil service, development of integrity principles in public and private sectors, anticorruption standards and conduction of external analysis of corruption risks.
UNDP has been also partnering with the Transparency Kazakhstan to increase the potential of youth and civil society organizations and to inspire them for participation in anticorruption work. Over 700 trainees of Anticorruption Summer School learnt international anticorruption standards, national and international anticorruption legislation, best practice-based strategies towards corruption prevention, and applied mechanisms for minimization of corruption in public sector.
Apart from that, UNDP and Transparency Kazakhstan twice conducted sociological study on corruption perception in Kazakhstan. The study is based on the combined methodologies of the Global Corruption Barometer and the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), and includes survey of respondents, analysis of complaints at EGov platform, and expert interviews. The results of 2019 survey allowed Kazakhstan to improve its ranking in global CPI to 113 comparing to 124 in 2018.
As part of the COVID-19 response programme in Kazakhstan, UNDP provided an immediate support to the work of civil servants, ensuring uninterrupted delivery of public services, as well as continuous capacity-building for civil society organizations. UNDP conducted trainings for more than 1,000 civil servants to be able to perform effectively in teleworking mode, mobilized 450 volunteers to assist citizens in using public services online across the country, and trained civil society representatives in deploying public service assessment tools.
Focus on engaging civil society in monitoring process promotes transparency and accountability which are the major factors for corruption free society. With this purpose UNDP upgraded the knowledge and skills of civil society representatives on public engagement mechanisms (public councils, public hearings, anticorruption expertise of draft laws, anticorruption monitoring groups,) and matched them with the government agencies for the joint anticorruption activities.
As an example, UNDP and the Anti-Corruption Agency jointly conducted the external analysis of corruption risks in the work of government agencies and state-owned companies, engaging civil society representatives. This initiative has revealed system issues and need for regulatory changes in their business processes, including human resource management, procurement and financial operations. To add the value to this initiative, UNDP has developed a Guidance on Corruption Risks Assessment for the use of regional staff of the Anti-Corruption Agency.
According to the UN Secretary General, the United Nations continues to prioritize transparency and accountability, in and beyond the COVID-19 response. Reducing the risks of mismanagement and corruption during the pandemic requires an involvement of strong anti-corruption bodies, better oversight over emergency support packages, more open and transparent public procurement and enhanced anti-corruption compliance by the private sector. To RECOVER with INTEGRITY, we need to stand #UnitedAgainstCorruption.