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Public Procurement Corruption: Casuses, Remedies (2)

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This is the second part of the paper first published Monday 4th January, 2010.

 

According to Vito Tanzi, “The total economic and social effects of corrupt actions might be very costly and out of proportion to the bribes received by corrupt officials in terms of resources wasted, the opportunity cost of resources· misused, and the inefficiencies introduced in the system.”

To illustrate the economic impact of rent seeking and corruption with an example, imagine that a highway is to be built, a N500 million project. Ten companies take part in the tender. A modest suggestion is that five companies each pay N500,000 in various types of grease payments to win the contract, while the winner also pays 10% of the contract value, N50 million. The apparent effect is that $52,500,000 is wasted. Besides, the bribe paid by the contractor most probably inflates the highway price, or makes the company skimp on quality. The other four bribing companies also have to regain their sunk cost, for instance by increasing prices on other products offered by the company, contributing to higher domestic inflation. Macroeconomic effects are obvious if this example portrays e.g. ten percent of the public acquisitions in a country. This percentage is most likely higher in countries experiencing extensive corruption.

Corruption, “state capture” and transition economies

A different side of bureaucratic rent seeking is state capture, defined as the propensity of firms to shape the underlying rules of the game (Le. laws, decrees and regulations) through illicit and non-transparent private payments to public officials (Hellman et aI., 2000a). State capture evolves as a result of grand corruption. Key state institutions are “captured” by private interests to bias the policy-making process in favor of particular firms, leaving the operation of government non-transparent. The underlying threat to democracy is obvious when elected politicians and public officials make decisions on grounds deviating from the expected.

Impaired competition, abated international interest and firm behavior

“Systematic corruption can induce inefficiencies that reduce competitiveness. It may limit the number of bidders, favor those with inside connections rather than the most efficient candidates, limit the information available to participants and introduce added transaction costs” (UNDP, 1997). These distortions of market forces obstruct the ordinary benefits induced by competition, like the achievement of best value for money, a rational allocation of resources, and the pressure experienced by individuals and companies for general improvement. Usually, a public tender affected by corruption represents an inefficient investment of public assets. One reason is inflated prices; another is that a corrupt official who discriminates in favor of some bidders frequently selects an inefficient contractor (lien, 1990; Rose-Ackerman, 1978).

A pervasive level of corruption in the economy may also abate the international interest in both trade and foreign direct investment (Wei, 1997 and 1999), resulting in a GDP growth lower than it could have been and a reduction of qualified competitors in procurement projects. Corruption represents an increase of trade or investment expenditures to a foreign enterprise. When demands for bribes also appear unpredictable, counting on the necessary profit is difficult.

Predictable corruption, however, may not necessarily be less harmful than unpredictable corruption. Lambsdorff argues that confidence in corrupt deals enhances the further spread of corruption. “When business people have confidence that after paying a bribe a return will be provided as promised, there is less motivation to seek legal alternatives” (Lambsdorff, 2001). The uncertainty with regard to costs may thus cause the enterprise to turn the tender in question down. Besides, operating in a situation with informal rules is difficult as the company may not understand how to behave and react, who to bribe (and not to bribe), what contact to grease, etc., explaining a certain refusal to approach the economy. Companies may also decline tenders likely to be affected by corruption because of legal restrictions on bribery of foreign public officials.

The companies defying all these challenges, on the other hand, experiencing successful trade or investment in the economy despite high levels of corruption, often exhibit a more lenient attitude towards bribery. Furthermore, UNDP (1997) explains how the uncertainties introduced by corruption into the economic environment may affect the way private firms do business. The firm may take up a short-run orientation, fearing either that those in power may overthrow because of their corruption, or the imposition of arbitrary financial demands once investments are sunk. The consequence may be a reluctance to invest in stationary capital and a too hasty project completion ignoring quality demands.

Of course, these problems are not characterizing all companies. To some degree, however, the attitude towards bribery and the effect on firm behavior may cause an adverse selection of foreign companies operating in the economy, companies whose success rests on bribery. Such an adverse selection of companies would ensure a constant flow of illegal payments to public officials, and restrict the efficiency of anti-corruption measures.

GOOD PRACTICES IN PUBLIC PROCUREMENT

The fight against corruption must start with an explicit commitment by the prime leadership of the country. Ending the pettier forms of corruption in the bureaucracy is difficult if the grand political corruption persists. An honest intention has to be followed up by good behavior, expressing opposition against all forms of corruption, whether it involves family members and friends, political associates, or other members of government.

Policy Response

Policy makers can respond to risks of corruption in general by ensuring a good public procurement system. A good public procurement system that can effectively prevent corruption needs to be transparent and provide for accountability and integrity. The system should also confirm to and cover various procedures, laws and processes put in place for detecting and preventing corruption.

(To be Continued).

 

Seun Adebowale

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Crude Hits Seven-Year High On Recovery Hope … Equity Rally Runs Out

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Crude oil hit a more than seven-year high yesterday on optimism that the global recovery will ramp up demand.
However, concerns about the end of long-running central bank support and rising Treasury yields saw most equity markets reverse early gains.
After an almost uninterrupted rally from the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, world markets are showing signs of levelling out as global finance chiefs shift from economy-boosting largesse to measures aimed at reining in inflation.
Still, there is an expectation that equities will enjoy further gains this year as countries reopen and people grow more confident about travel, especially as studies suggest the more prevalent Omicron coronavirus variant appears to be milder and as vaccines are rolled out.
Analysts are also watching the corporate earnings season that is underway, with hopes that firms can match their stellar performances last year.
But while Asian markets started the day brightly after Monday’s travails, traders returned to selling, with US Treasury yields surging on expectations the Federal Reserve will have to unveil several interest rate hikes to tackle a worrying spike in inflation. Wall Street was closed Monday.
Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Mumbai, Bangkok and Jakarta all fell.
There were gains in Shanghai in hopes of fresh economy-boosting measures, while Wellington and Manila also edged up.
London, Paris and Frankfurt all fell at the open.
But oil built on its early promise, with Brent climbing to $88.13 a barrel and WTI hitting $85.74, both levels not seen since October 2014.
The gains came thanks to demand optimism as the world reopens and concerns about Omicron ease. The loosening of travel restrictions in several countries has seen jet fuel costs soar.
Hopes for more monetary easing by major consumer, China, to reinforce its stuttering economy were also seen as key support for the oil market.

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NPA, MWUN, Others Synergise On Labour

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President General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, has reaffirmed commitment to ensuring smooth working relationship with  management, Tin Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC) of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on labour related issues.
Adeyanju, who made the commitment during a working visit to the Port Manager, TCIPC, Mr. Buba Jubril, in Lagos, noted that the union will continue to promote industrial peace and harmony in the  operational activities at seaports.
Noting that synergy among all the maritime stakeholders was key for port efficiency, he hinted that the union has changed the narrative from being tagged as hooligans to a more responsible and civil Institution in the maritime industry.
Earlier, the Port Manager, TCIPC, Buba Jubril, thanked the  PG of MWUN for the systematic approach on labour related issues at the port level
Disclosing that the PG has been instrumental to the existing peace in port operations, Jubril assured on the existing synergy the port authority and all the unions.
Jubril further said that “ Myself and the President General MWUN has come a long in the industry.
“I have known him (PG) for over 33years and that will tell you that he is my friend and friend to management of the Nigeria port authority”, he said.

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Osinbajo Wants More Stakeholders’ Involvement In Blue Economy … Inaugurates Committee

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has sought for wider participation of relevant stakeholders in the blue economy project to deepen participation and benefits of Nigerians from the country’s marine resources.
Making the call at the  inaugural meeting of an Expanded Committee on Sustainable Blue Economy in Nigeria at the Presidential Villa yesterday, the Vice President said “a viable blue economy project will offer vista of opportunities not only for littoral states where there are bodies of waters, but for the entire country”.
He identified areas to be exploited to include ports, terminals, fishing, training, environment, tourism, power,oil and gas.
While identifying possible challenges of sustainability, the VP urged all the ministries, departments and agencies to strengthen their collaborations in an atmosphere of inter ministerial working groups and advised all members to attend the meetings faithfully for maximum results.
Osinbajo , who formally inaugurated the expanded committee, identified the need for a legal framework that will be more robust than other international maritime conventions on blue economy, which Nigeria has been signatory to.
He said the scope and participation of the committee will be further improved upon to accommodate more members from government agencies and relevant private sector stakeholders
“There is no doubt that the blue economy is a new frontier for economic development and a means of diversifying the economy through the use of resources from oceans, seas, rivers and lakes for the well being of the people.
“It also provides positive contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) 2052 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (2052AIM) and the UN 2030 agenda
“This concept for economic diversification is promoted by the international community and provides friendly means of livelihood in line with this administration’s agenda on job creation’, he said.
He continued that “the ocean economy as an emerging economic frontier applies to ocean-based industry activities and the assets, goods and services of marine ecosystems.
“Countries have to define the scope of their blue economy based on their priorities. For example, in Bangladesh, the ocean economy consists of the following broad and growing economic sectors; living resources, minerals, energy, transport, trade, tourism and recreation, carbon sequestration and coastal protection.
“These industries and ecosystem services do not develop in isolation, but rather interact as an economic ecosystem”, the VP said.
Earlier in his remark,Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi said the blue economy is capable of improving government revenue, create employments and grow the gross domestic product of Nigeria.
Amaechi, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Magdalene Ajani, also expressed optimism in the benefits derivable from a well exploited marine environment
Speaking at the event,  Dr. Paul Adalikwu, Secretary General of Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) lauded the initiative of the expansion while recommending inclusion of financial institutions such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and African Development Bank (AfDB), as well as key financial institutions that will contribute meaningfully to realizing Nigeria’s Blue Economy objective.
In addition to  maritime agencies such as the Nigeria Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, and Maritime Academy of Nigeria, the expanded committee also include ten state governors.
They the Governors of Rivers, Lagos, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Borno, Ogun, Ondo, Cross River, Bayelsa and Edo States.
Other members are Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Power, Finance, Environment, Trade and Investment, Agriculture and Water Resources , Chief of Naval Staff, Comptroller General of Customs, Lake Chad Basin Commission, Nigeria Economic Summit Group, etc.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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