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Private sector in pole position to end graft

Tuesday October 22 2019

Corruption

An anti-corruption protest in Nairobi on May 31, 2018. Corruption is a significant barrier to socio-economic development. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MARY WACEKE
By MARY WACEKE
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When the Bribery Act came in force in 2017, many Kenyans saw this as a step towards the right direction in efforts to clean up a society characterised by endless tales of corruption.

Focus had now turned to the private sector to take a leading role in preventing and reporting bribery within their jurisdiction.

Two years later, however, the country has not fared any better.

According to Transparency International, the country dropped one point in the global “Corruption Perception Index” (CPI) 2019 to a score of 27 out of 100, largely attributed to lack of goodwill from the law enforcers.

While the effects of corruption are well known, the hidden costs continue to severely hurt service delivery.

In all this, the role of the private sector in eradicating corruption has not been well understood with various actors disagreeing on whether it is a victim or a perpetrator of graft.

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STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS

Corruption is a significant barrier to socio-economic development, for which the private sector serves as a change agent.

Incorporating peer education in their dealings gives them an upper hand to develop ethical business leaders who will help fight corruption.

The ethical dilemma for private sector players is that refusing to pay bribes can cost their companies contracts, licences and even revenues.

Essentially, good companies which do not yield to extortion may lose out to bad competitors who do. Consequently, most companies yield to corruption or stay silent.

While corruption might be seen as that giant that cannot be slain, there is consensus that fighting corruption requires the engagement of multiple stakeholders. This includes strategic partnerships to reconcile divergent perceptions on the subject matter.

The players can foster a culture of business integrity and compliance, raise public awareness on corruption and the importance of integrity.

CORPORATE CITIZEN

This also lends credence to the fact that commitment on enforcement of the culture of integrity is central to tackling corruption and minimising its impact on society, hence contributing to the realisation of Goal 16 of the sustainable development goals.

To achieve this, all stakeholders in the corruption value chain need to collaborate.

The best place to start this is in schools and universities, where, through the education and dissemination of integrity principles, we can lay the foundation of strong institutions that promote active corporate citizenship.

The creation of transparent rules of running business among our members. We need them to understand the fact that it is only through the adoption of the basic business ethics that will change the business climate for all of us and in the long run guarantee sustained growth.

Ms Waceke is the head of secretariat at The Blue Company. [email protected]

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