On invitation by the Integrity Initiative and the Office of the Ombudsman, ADFIAP attended the Forum on the Implementation of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Anti-Corruption Code of Conduct for Business” on September 20-21, 2012 at the Dusit Thani Manila Hotel in Makati City, Philippines. Atty. Alberto B. Reyno, Managing Principal of the ADFIAP Consulting (AC), participated in the forum.
In her opening remarks, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales underscored the importance of fighting the scourge of corruption in the Asia-Pacific region, stating, “stamping out the forces of corruption is as imperative as granting the people of the Asia-Pacific region the full measure of the blessings of a robust economy. Good governance leads us closer to achieving inclusive growth, generating employment and reducing poverty and ultimately greater prosperity for the greatest number of the people within the region.”
The event attended by about 60 participants from 10 APEC member-economies served as the venue to report the results of the APEC-funded study initiated by the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct a baseline survey to determine the extent by which the code has been adopted by the 21 APEC member-economies. In addition, experts were invited to report and give presentations on the experiences of various member-economies that have pilot-tested the APEC Anti-Corruption Code of Conduct for Business. Another important objective of the forum was the formulation of an operational program aimed at cascading the code through policies, programs and systems at three levels: national, chamber of commerce/business associations and enterprises with focus on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Based on UN studies, MSMEs are the most vulnerable to corruption which is a major obstacle to the development of the sector. It is estimated that about $1,000 billion in bribes is paid annually by MSMEs in the conduct of their businesses.
The forum also provided some potential areas of interventions identified to help MSMEs fight corruption such as: (a) awareness-raising, information dissemination and outreach mechanisms; (b) upgrading public complaint and reporting mechanism; (c) improving MSME legal awareness and access to justice; (d) public policies on anti-corruption and MSME development (simplification of procedures); (e) building business partnerships to fight corruption; and (f) MSME-internal prevention and control mechanism.
The APEC Anti-Corruption Code of Conduct for Business was endorsed by the APEC leaders in 2007 as part of its commitment to prevent and fight corruption in both public and private sectors. The code prohibits all forms of bribery and provides a general framework for an anti-bribery program at the enterprise level. In 2009, the code was introduced for pilot implementation, through the pathfinder project, in Australia, Chile and Vietnam.