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  1. Stephen Wolstenholme says

    OECD research shoes that greater transparency, accountability and merit-based human resource management in public administration are principles which, if implemented, make it possible to curb corruption. Simplification of state intervention in economic activity also helps. A study of the customs administration in Senegal found, using econometric tests, that a reduction in import taxes, simplification of their structure, implementation of reforms reducing the discretionary powers of customs officials and computerisation of procedures helped to reduce the level of fraud by 85% between 1990 and 1995.
    But identifying the direction that reforms should take is only part of the task. The main difficulty lies in implementing them. This requires a strategy that really is operational. Two kinds of obstacles are usually encountered. The first is economic. While underdevelopment does not inevitably generate corruption, underdeveloped countries do not have the same means as more advanced ones to escape it. It is difficult to replicate the strategy adopted in Hong Kong, for instance, which involved the creation of an investigative agency with a large staff and plentiful funds. The fight against corruption must therefore be based on the development process itself.
    The second kind of obstacle is political. Many politicians owe their careers and status to corruption and few of them, if any, will take a stand against it, either for fear of upsetting their own careers or the political status quo generally.
    Civil society and the media can help by denouncing corruption and putting pressure on the government. But the real impediments to the fight against corruption are as much the interests of the politico-administrative apparatus as the fatalism and ignorance of the victims, maintained by a culture of fear nurtured by those who benefit from corruption.
    The private sector can also make an important contribution to the fight against corruption, by policing its own codes of conduct and sticking to high standards of governance. International and regional organisations can also help, as can bilateral aid agencies, via programmes to strengthen institutional capacity, and of course by ensuring the transparency of the projects they support.
    One thing is sure: the problem of corruption in the developing countries cannot be solved simply by applying anti-corruption structures that work in Western countries. The experience the latter countries have acquired in terms of legislation, public procurement codes and control procedures, for example, is valuable, but it is just a technical element in a much more complex process of change. A reduction in corruption depends on economic development. It is thus for each country concerned to draw up its own strategy, by which it can then lead to a virtuous circle of development and good governance.

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