Manila (Philippines), 28 April 2023 - Corruption continues to impede development across several Southeast Asian countries, with public procurement standing out as a prime area of concern. In a determined effort to tackle this pervasive issue, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) convened a high-level Roundtable Discussion on Public Procurement Fraud and Corruption. The event served as a platform to identify challenges and practical solutions for enhancing the prevention, detection, and prosecution of these illicit activities.
The event gathered key officials from the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB), the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB), the Open Contracting Partnership, the Open Government Partnership, Open Ownership, PhilGEPS, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), the Revision of Laws Committee of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Their collective expertise and experience shed light on relevant laws and policies pertaining to public procurement fraud and corruption, bid rigging, conflict of interest scenarios, and the complex legal ramifications involved.
Throughout the intensive discussions, participants addressed their respective roles, outlined procedures, and candidly shared the challenges they face in curbing public procurement fraud. Drawing from compelling case studies, attention was particularly focused on relevant issues in the Philippines. Officials from the Office of the Ombudsman underscored the difficulties encountered when investigating corruption in low-value procurements. The discussions further delved into recommendations emanating from the second cycle of the UNCAC review, centering on measures such as strengthening conflict of interest disclosure and management rules for procurement officials, broadening the criteria for excluding bidders involved in corrupt practices, and establishing an independent and robust appeal mechanism for procurement decisions.
The culmination of the roundtable was a series of recommendations aimed at fortifying the integrity of public procurement systems. These included the establishment of a specialized procurement academy to elevate skills and knowledge, the development of a comprehensive code of conduct tailored specifically for procurement officials, the creation of an inter-agency coordinating council or task force to confront public procurement corruption head-on, the integration of whistleblower protection provisions within the proposed procurement law, and the mandatory submission of beneficial ownership declaration forms by bidders to enhance transparency and accountability.
By successfully convening key stakeholders, the roundtable discussion fostered collaboration and innovation in the fight against corruption. The outcome of this Roundtable Discussion will guide UNODC’s concrete activities in 2023 and beyond, ultimately paving the way for a more transparent, accountable, and efficient public procurement system in the Philippines.
This event was conducted as part of activities funded by the Kingdom of Denmark.
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