«Welcoming Remarks Shomei Yokouchi Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished participants, in my capacity as senior vice-minister of justice, whereby I am ...»
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, we are all pleased to be here in Tokyo for the Third Annual Conference of the ADB/ OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for the Asia-Pacific Region. Let me also take this opportunity to thank the OECD for its excellent collaboration on this conference and the government of Japan for hosting this important meeting.
The OECD has long been at the forefront of the fight against bribery in international business dealings with its Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Our host, the government of Japan, has been a strong supporter of the ADB/OECD Initiative since the beginning. As we know, one of the major matters before us is the Action Plan presented to this conference. We thank all our partners for their help in preparing this plan, including Transparency International, the Pacific Basin Economic Council, the United Nations Development Programme, the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom, and the World Bank.
In a few countries, according to the Transparency International Corruption Index, corruption is virtually absent. These countries have extremely productive economies and their citizens enjoy high standards of living, with little or no corruption. We know that strong and transparent institutions are key to high standards of living. These societies have become prosperous because economic and social incentives reward peoples’ productivity based on their skills and creativity.
However, recognizing that a corruption-free environment is primarily the result of affirmative efforts to reduce, if not eliminate, opportunities for corruption is important. Strong laws and effective police and judicial systems are essential elements of such an environment. But economies fundamentally work because of institutions that provide strong incentives for individuals and society as a whole to adhere to society’s rules.
Combating corruption requires strong and enduring political commitment and leadership. The political leadership can send important signals that corruption is not tolerated. I could cite numerous approaches and proposals; however, much of this is incorporated in the Action Plan, which I urge you to review in detail.
24 TAKING ACTION AGAINST CORRUPTION IN ASIA AND THE PACIFICFrom the ADB’s standpoint, I am pleased to share with you a brief summary of some of the ADB’s most recent projects and activities in this area.
In Pakistan the ADB is providing a US$350 million loan for a program to strengthen the judiciary, as well as legal enforcement mechanisms and institutions. Among other things, the program will establish a federal judicial academy, provide better budgetary support for the judicial mandate to introduce innovations in legal education, create ombudsmen to handle public legal grievances, and establish institutions for consumer protection. The program is designed to remove the constraints that a weak legal framework and the unpredictable performance of judicial institutions in Pakistan impose on the economy.
In Nepal, an ongoing governance reform program supported by the ADB contains a significant element to reduce corruption through improved and revised legislation and compliance with audits.
In addition to providing technical and financial support to its developing member countries in their anti-corruption efforts, the ADB also
• Adopted a good governance policy in 1995
• Adopted an anti-corruption policy in 1998
• Reiterated its commitment to these policies through its long-term strategic framework adopted in 2001.
The world has changed dramatically since 11 September. The attacks on the United States have demonstrated the importance of fighting money laundering, bribery, and corruption. They underscore, in particular, the need for strong, unwavering, and broadly based commitment to combat corruption in all its pernicious forms and the importance of our joint efforts in preparing the Action Plan.
The ADB looks forward to implementing the Action Plan in cooperation with the countries that endorse it. The ADB will continue to support anti-corruption initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region through its loans and technical assistance.
Again, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to all those who have been involved in the development of the Action Plan. We also wish you the best in your coming deliberations in this vitally important challenge facing all of us.