Risk control


Valor Econômico - Special Section - Fighting Corruption - 17/08/2012


In a context in which the axis of growth of the world economy is inverted and shifts to emerging countries and in which commodity prices are expected to remain at high levels in the coming years, a window of opportunity opens up for nations, such as Brazil, rich in natural resources. Transforming this cycle of wealth for the benefit of the entire population will depend to a large extent on efficiently managing institutions, conducting public policies and reducing corruption.

“The difference between living a curse and a blessing is essentially linked to governance and reducing corruption,” said Otaviano Canuto, vice president of the World Bank, one of those attending the international seminar “The Impact of Corruption on Development”, organized fur Market and by the Etco institute, on Wednesday, in São Paulo.

In this context, spending control tools, greater transparency on the part of public agencies and advances in the political system are areas that need to be reinforced to curb illicit practices. For the director of public governance and development of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Rolf Alter, corruption is a global phenomenon that crosses borders and whose fight must be reinforced in view of the prospect that in the coming years more than US $ 1 trillion in investment projects in the world are carried out by different countries. "A lot of money will be invested and it will be necessary to act across the planet to prevent corruption and promote integrity," he said.

A World Bank study between 2005 and 2008 shows progress in some countries in Europe and setbacks by others in combating corruption. Administrative corruption cases, such as gifts and money given by the private sector to speed up decision-making by a public entity, have been reduced. Corruption linked to public procurement - which deals with a larger amount of public money and is more centralized - increased in the same sample of countries. "The success stories took place in the countries that carried out a specific and pragmatic reform, used monitoring and metrics to assess public performance, and created capacity for local public management," said Otaviano Canuto.

Corruption is not a problem that threatens only the Brazilian economy, but also the businesses of companies that seek internationalization. "Today we have more Brazilian companies investing abroad and the geography of interest to them is an area that is still undergoing maturing of institutions, which in some cases are still fragile," said the Director of Policies and Strategy of the National Confederation of Industry (CNI), José Augusto Coelho Fernandes.

Brazil has made progress to increase transparency in relation to Union spending, but it will still be necessary to overcome several obstacles, according to those present at the discussion, especially in small and medium-sized municipalities. One of the advances was the edition of the Law on Access to Public Information, in force since May this year. The chief minister of the Federal Comptroller General (CGU), Jorge Hage Sobrinho, said that more than 20 thousand requests for information have been received, and the bodies that receive the most consultations are Susep, INSS, Central Bank, Ministries of Finance and of Planning. Another government tool to increase data dissemination is the transparency portal, where government expenditure can be analyzed in daily detail.

"Brazil has become a reference in this field," said Hage. “Whoever used the portal before was a specific audience, like the researcher, the journalist and the civil servant. Now the Brazilian citizen is using it ”, said Jorge Hage.

For Josmar Verillo, vice-president of the Board of Directors of Amarribo Brasil, Transparency International's arm in the country, it is necessary to advance the issue mainly in small and medium-sized cities in which political parties act as gangs taking turns in power. "In some cases, royalties are even charged when there is a change in the City Hall, but interest in maintaining a scheme," he said, stressing that in these areas the main beneficiaries are politicians. In his view, it would be necessary to act in several areas. Receiving pressure from international agencies would help. It would also be necessary to revise the Penal Code and remove the privileged forum. "One has the impression that the Judiciary is fragile and that the Penal Code is out of date," he said.

Former Federal Supreme Court Minister Ellen Gracie Northfleet pointed out that, in some cases, public agencies have difficulties in rendering accounts due to bureaucratic demands. "Many are unable to fill everything that is needed," he said. Bureaucracy also reaches companies. She cited an example: in a recent conversation with a large Brazilian businessman who does business in Brazil and is active in the United States, the executive said that to manage the demands of federal, state and municipal public agencies in Brazil, he has a team of one hundred employees, while in the United States there is only one. “These difficulties end up weighing on the entire structure”, he stressed, stressing that another important task in Brazil would be the need to train public agents. "In Brazil, sometimes the mayor is elected for being friendly and for maintaining good relations with the population and not for technical criteria".