By Nelson A. King
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has announced that Italy is joining Norway, Canada and MasterCard as a partner and contributor to the bank’s Transparency Fund, a vital tool to help Caribbean and other countries strengthen their anti-corruption and pro-transparency reforms.
The government of Italy has donated €1 million, the IDB said on Wednesday, Jan. 24.
Since its launch in 2007, the Washington-based financial institution said the Transparency Fund has provided technical assistance grants for over 50 projects worth over US$18 million, benefiting 25 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The projects have supported government reform, accountability agencies and policy research in the areas of open government, control systems, financial integrity and resource governance, the IDB said.
“We are deeply grateful to the government of Italy for its contributions and partnering with the Bank,” said Ana María Rodríguez, the manager for the IDB’s Department of Institutions for Development, which oversees the Fund. “This comes at a critical moment when notorious corruption cases have shaken citizen confidence in their governing institutions and triggered important reforms requiring technical support.
“We firmly believe that our efforts in the past 10 years have helped ensure governments are more transparent and accountable to their citizens, and that public watchdog institutions are better equipped to do their jobs,” Rodríguez added. “This has sent a strong signal to all actors that getting away with corrupt behavior is more difficult than ever.”
The IDB said the Transparency Fund has emerged as a regional technical assistance leader, stating that the Fund has met or exceeded its targets, according to a recent evaluation, showing “remarkable progress” in enhancing the effectiveness of institutions.
Thanks in part to the work of the Transparency Fund, the IDB said four countries in the region were removed from “a grey list of countries” compiled by the Financial Action Task Force, the main international body focusing on the prevention of money laundering.
Brazil was able to greatly reduce the number of federal procurement projects with corruption red flags, and saved millions by stemming fraud in social programs, the IDB said.
It said the Fund’s grants “have played a critical role in pushing forward important integrity reforms and mobilizing IDB loans on transparency and anti-corruption for over US$1.2 billion.”
The Transparency Fund was launched in 2007 with an initial donation from the government of Norway, which made additional contributions in 2012 and 2013, the IDB said.
It said the government of Canada and the Mastercard Corporation joined as donors in 2014. The IDB also contributed with a donation to the Fund in 2011.