Why Fighting Corruption Matters In Pandemic

Corruption is the abuse and exploitation of entrusted power for private gain. The increase in income inequalities and crime rates in countries is one of the consequences of corruption.


Corruption increases the costs of the poor in the country and reduces access to services, including health, education, and justice. Thanks to corruption in the supply of drugs and medical equipment, poor people can turn to substandard and harmful products. Counterfeit medicines and vaccines have centuries of health effects. Corruption, especially in the service sector, seriously reduces the well-being of the people in the country.


In countries with high corruption rates, the public's trust in the government decreases, and community organizations suffer. As a result, in such countries, the people are driven to inequality and discontent.


Corruption has an impact on growth and employment. It disrupts the natural dynamics in the stock markets of countries and prevents investments. Countries that successfully fight against corruption use their resources more efficiently, attracting investments and thus growing their economies.


The most effective solution that states can do against corruption is transparency and open governance. The public should see that the state is transparent in its internal affairs. This will increase trust in governments. People who do not know what is going on behind closed doors may be prejudiced against the state.



Corruption In Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Corruption and emergencies in the country feed off each other, creating lousy governance and more profound crises. There are budgets that states keep for dealing with emergencies. In a country where there is almost no corruption when the government encounters an emergency, it spends from this budget and tries to deal with the emergency.


In countries with high corruption, this budget may have already been used. Corruption is ultimately the abuse of power. Using the country's budget for personal interests is one of them.


Apart from using the budget, states can also create emergency funds and misuse this budget. As a result, the presence of corruption in crises affecting countries affects the public very severely and does not help to get out of this emergency.


As it is known, COVID-19 can be given as an example of the emergencies mentioned above. The worldwide handling of the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the need for integrity in managing crises.


According to the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), countries with the COVID-19 pandemic;

  • They divert funds from essential services such as health care, leaving countries worldwide with a public health crisis.
  • They are not transparent in the allocation of resources. This behavior weakens the effectiveness of crisis intervention.
  • Human rights and democratic norms may be violated when managing the COVID-19 pandemic in countries that cannot control corruption.



Underfunding of Essential Services

When corruption is committed, funds are usually obtained from essential public services such as health and education. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the negative effects of using these funds for self-interest. The disruptions experienced in the service sector during the pandemic prove the consequences of corruption.


During the pandemic, many governments were unable to provide the necessary healthcare to their citizens. But, of course, the health sector was not the only factor affected by the pandemic. People could not open their businesses for months and continued to pay rent. As a result of the scenario prepared by the governments for the possible economic crisis, there had to be a fund that was on the side.


Emergencies can be an excellent excuse to present transparency and anti-corruption measures as a barrier to swift and effective government intervention. However, transparency is key to proper and efficient management of emergencies, as it helps ensure that resources reach their intended beneficiaries.



COVID-19 and Public Recruitment

Covid-19 has also confirmed the importance of transparency in public recruitment processes. In public recruitment, it is essential that competent people are prioritized and that cheating is not done. Confidence in the competence of public employees, such as health workers, is critical in pandemic days.


However, the supply of drugs and supplies is one of the most corrupt areas. The government can be unfair by buying these goods from companies with close links with no previous manufacturing experience. To prevent such situations, transparency in public spaces is the right thing to do. Some potential measures include: allocating resources to conduct instant checks on the quality of goods and services, encouraging civil society and journalists to monitor procurement processes, and announcing detailed post-audit audits of transactions during the emergency.



Violation of Human Rights & Democratic Norms

Countries with high corruption are likely to violate human rights and democratic norms as part of emergency responses. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2020, governments have violated democratic standards in the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, countries with higher levels of corruption tend to be the worst perpetrators of violations of human rights and democratic standards in their response to COVID-19, according to the report.



Suggestions

  • Anti-corruption policies. This enables corruption risk analysis as part of health system strengthening assessments and national health planning exercises.
  • Transparency in public procurement. Tender data should be published in an open format and posted on central platforms. Clear rules and protocols for emergencies should be designed and implemented.
  • Supervision and oversight institutions should be independent. These institutions should be strengthened, and access to appropriate resources should be provided. Scenarios to be used in emergency situations should be created, and adequate equipment should be provided.
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