Corruption remains one of the most pernicious threats to the quality and legitimacy of democratic governance, not least in South Asia.
One of the most innovative responses is Ipaidabribe.com, an Indian civil society initiative, which highlights grassroots and alternative approaches to tackling graft.
Looking beyond punitive solutions to corruption, for instance, Nandan Nilekani, chairman of India’s Unique Identification Authority, proposes leveraging information technology to reduce scope for bribery.
In Pakistan, private sector leaders have traditionally been largely reluctant to discuss one of the foremost impediments to the country’s economic growth – writes Marc Schleifer:
In both the press and the popular perception, the problem has typically been discussed as a product of a too-cozy nexus between the political and business elites. Meanwhile, representatives of the business community have considered the topic taboo, and as a result, have rarely conveyed their view – that in fact, by and large, far from benefiting, most in Pakistan’s private sector suffer from the high level of corruption.
Since the Center for International Private Enterprise opened its Pakistan office in 2006 and began worked with the country’s chambers of commerce, it has gradually become more feasible to raise the issue of economic policy reform, and now for the first time, this has shifted to an open discussion of corruption. Business leaders now are willing to stand up and not only talk about the costs they face because of corruption, but to begin to think about how they can be part of the solution.
On October 25 in Islamabad, CIPE and the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) organized a roundtable on “The Role of the Private Sector in Reducing Corruption,” the first meeting of its kind in Pakistan. The event highlighted a new initiative in Pakistan – a corruption perceptions survey of young entrepreneurs called “Unpacking Corruption,” conducted by the Young Entrepreneurs’ Forum of ICCI.
As CIPE Pakistan Country Director Moin Fudda pointed out, corruption is closely tied with a tremendous amount of waste in the country’s state-owned enterprises, which lose the equivalent of over $3 billion annually. To help address this problem, CIPE is working on a program with the SECP to improve corporate governance in such companies.
CIPE is one of the core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.