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Norway confirms long-lasting support to help Caribbean curb corruption

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Norway confirms long-lasting support to help Caribbean curb corruption

Friday, February 01, 2019

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WASHINGTON, DC, USA (CMC) – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says the Government of Norway has confirmed its long-lasting support to help countries curb corruption and implement pro-transparency reforms in Latin America and the Caribbean.

On Wednesday, the IDB said Norway has contributed to its Transparency Fund since its inception in 2007 and in 2018, the government donated an additional US$1.1 million to the fund.

It said Norway granted the initial US$5-million contribution to kick-off the fund in 2007, and subsequently made two additional donations totalling about $7.5 million.

Since its launch in 2007, the IDB said the Transparency Fund has provided technical assistance grants to more than 50 projects worth over US$18 million, benefiting 25 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to date.

The projects have supported government reform, regional dialogue, and policy research in the areas of open government, control systems, financial integrity, and natural resource governance.

“Despite more than 20 years of application of international conventions – such as the Inter-American Convention against Corruption – corruption does not seem to have diminished,” the IDB said. “It is, however, now at the top of the policy agenda, as demonstrated by the recent declaration of the Summit of the Americas, powerfully titled ‘Democratic Governance against Corruption’”.

The IDB said regional countries face common challenges, “against which innovative practices and successful models from the region and beyond can provide interesting lessons.

“The IDB and the Transparency Fund are strategic partners of the ongoing process of institutional and legal strengthening that is taking place in LAC (Latin America and the Caribbean),” the IDB said.

“We firmly believe that our efforts in the past 10 years have helped ensure governments are more transparent and accountable to their citizens, and that public watchdog institutions are better equipped to do their jobs,” said Joel B Korn, Interim Chief of the Innovations for Citizens Services Division of IDB’s Department of Institutions for Development.

“This has sent a strong signal to all actors that getting away with corrupt behaviour is more difficult than ever,” it added.

The IDB said the Transparency Fund has been the main tool at its disposal to move forward the anti-corruption and transparency agenda.

“As shown in its recent evaluation, the fund helped countries make remarkable progress in opening up governments and strengthening transparency, integrity and accountability in the management of public resources – thus saving LAC countries’ public funds,” the bank said.

Harald Tollan, Norway’s counsellor at the IDB, said “10 years ago, when we conceived the idea of this fund, we envisaged something innovative to help countries pave the way for reforms that curb corruption and systematically instil transparency as a key principle in the management of public funds.

“The fund has gone beyond that, becoming instrumental for the support of the IDB to initiatives focused on anti-money laundering, control and audit functions and conflicts of interest, among others,” he said.

The IDB said the experience of Norway in the governance sector is “an international best practice”.

“Moreover, Norway, in specific areas, such as in the extractive sector, including its sovereign wealth fund, represents an invaluable source of expertise in supporting beneficiary countries,” the IDB said. “The country has provided a steady inspiration to the fund by also extending its initial scope and including new areas of work, such as open government and tax transparency.”

Highlights from projects financed by the Transparency Fund include helping three countries become compliant with the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative, the main global initiative in extractives governance, the IDB said.

It said the fund’s grants have played “a critical role in driving integrity reforms” and have mobilised more than US$1.4 billion in IDB loans in this sector.

The IDB said the Transparency Fund is also supported by the government of Canada and the Mastercard Corporation since 2014, while Italy joined alongside Sweden in December 2017.

The IDB also contributed with a donation to the fund in 2011.

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