SUVA (UNDP) — Tackling the COVID-19 pandemic successfully to-date stands as a testament to our Governments’ swift and effective handling of the unfolding crises. Through the enforcement of effective preventive measures our Pacific region has performed relatively well in the COVID-19 environment. Our countries have been spared from large-scale outbreaks and continue to manage and tailor its COVID-19 prevention and control measures for the health, safety and security of our people.

Nevertheless, the pandemic’s downstream effects continue to be detrimental for our countries health systems and economies. Procuring medical equipment and supporting our health systems, as well as mobilising funds towards economic safety nets for industry and citizens is critical for a COVID-19 response that puts people at the centre of our efforts but also comes with a significant risk of corruption. 

Corruption is an inevitable factor of economic and political decision making, and during times of crisis it thrives. From the public health to the private sector, and from public procurement to economic and emergency responses, the COVID-19 pandemic has not made our institutions any less susceptible to corrupt practices. Rather, it has highlighted vulnerabilities to corrupt practices, especially with regards to the mobilisation of funds, which are aimed at supporting the health system and our economies at large. The necessitated swift nature of policy reactions and preventative measures enacted by our Governments makes corruption evermore opportune. Corruption disrupts our public health sectors, the private sectors and notably, the emergency and economic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and it cannot go unchecked. 

Therefore, we clearly emphasise our stance that; ‘COVID-19 recovery can and will only be achieved with integrity and accountability’. In commemoration of this year’s campaign for International Anti-Corruption Day, we commit to Recovering with Integrity. 

Guided by this year’s global theme, we – the leaders of our Pacific countries and the UN, are committed to eradicating corruption at every level during this crucial time of COVID-19 recovery. In addition, we must also ensure accountability and full transparency in COVID-19 related recovery budgeting.

Whilst the pandemic exacerbates and highlights vulnerabilities of our systems of health and service delivery, we must also realise and make use of this occasion to consolidate our efforts to stop corruption. Recovering with Integrity also means that we, as Pacific islanders, have the opportunity to reset and support a grassroots economy. 

Public trust is not inherent, nor a given, especially in times of crisis. We acknowledge the urgent need to ensure access to information about public decision-making and our pandemic relief efforts. We now have the chance to increase community engagement efforts in the area of anti-corruption and are fully committed to achieving this. Through these efforts, we can circumvent the lure of corrupt practices, promote the rule of law and allow for full transparency and accountability from the institutions that serve our people. Through the avenue of public checks and balances, we aim to reinstall and maintain trust in our institutions, in order to recover with Integrity….. PACNEWS  

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