How to Stop Corruption
Developing countries mostly face a myriad of problems that impeded them from realizing their aim of providing for their citizens. It all boils down to the fact that there are institutional as well as structural roadblocks that impede the process of development in these countries.
One roadblock that has gained notoriety in the post-colonial era is the issue of corruption. As defined by most experts in the legal and political fields, corruption means illicit access to public funds for personal purposes. In other words, corruption can mean a form of thievery perpetrated by the very people who are voted into power and are expected to use public coffers for their own personal benefit.
Indeed, corruption is not only inimical in the legal sense, but it also assumes a broader dynamic when issues on economic development are concerned. First of all, modern states generate income through taxes and by selling bonds to private entities. Each year, a proposal is drafted containing all the budgetary needs of the state and the numerous investments it needs to secure. In any democratic state, it is the legislative body which “calls the shots” when it comes to preparing the national budget. But having the power over the public purse means the opening up opportunities to profit from this state function.
Public officials, whether in the local or the national domains, spend a great deal on their campaign for election or re-election (whatever the case maybe). Campaign spending on ads and other materials would cost millions of dollars. A politician running for senator, for instance, would spend at least $3 million on TV campaigns alone. The sum of money involved would eventually push politicians to compensate for these losses, the only possible way being to divert public funds into their own pockets.
Apparently, there is a need for structural reforms in dealing with the issue of corruption, but such reforms could hardly scratch the surface. What a developing nation needs is to institutionalize the following action plans.
Transparency and the availability of information
A more effective way of accounting public expenditures is to make these public by way of a law that allows private individuals to access and scrutinize information. With this comes the need for every branch of the government to cooperate. Consequently, they will become more cautious in terms of handling the use of money, from procurement down to auditing.
Get citizens involved
Corruption is an issue that impacts not just individuals, but whole communities as well. For this, it is important for citizens to organize think tanks and organizations from the grassroots that will bring discourse on corruption into the mainstream.
Crackdown on money laundering
The reason why public officials feel enamored to steal from public coffers is the idea that they can always get away with it. The fact that there are institutional loopholes maintains the culture of corruption, along with the ineffective implementation of laws that are supposed to safeguard the public interests from graft.
For this reason, countries should improve their legal structures to deal with money laundering more effectively. This will entail creating special independent bodies that are able to conduct thorough investigations on such issues.
Finally, it is important for states to create mechanisms through which the culture of impunity can be adequately addressed. Politicians lie in the comfort of protectors or shady connections in order to keep their illegal activities clandestine and eventually erase any trace of wrongdoing.
Ending impunity will eventually improve a country’s anti-corruption drive. But as long as countries tolerate an unjust system of double standards, then it will be impossible to even provide solutions to corruption.