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Millennium Post

Reining in private corruption

The government’s move to bring in laws against corruption for the private sector has to be welcomed. There is a strong need to eliminate all forms of corruption from our system so that a healthy and fair economic system can prevail and people are no longer harassed. This requires the elimination of corruption in the private sector, which has grown by leaps and bounds as well. While corruption by public servants catches the eye,  corruption by the private sector and within it somehow escapes notice and comment. It is not the case, if it ever was, of the private sector being victims of avaricious public servants. The private sector has been more than an equal partner in the corrupt deals that have befuddled the government, in the giving and seeking of bribes. Private sector corruption is just not restricted to deals and lobbying with the government. With liberalisation, the private sector has begun to take over many functions relating to the distribution of
goods and services that were earlier restricted to the public sector. It would be too to much to expect that the public sector culture of paying and accepting bribes was not to invade the private sector. It can well be imagined how some are willing to pay or are coerced into paying sums for preferential treatment to private companies or those within them. This is only one area and one type of corrupt behaviour that private enterprise finds itself indulging in. There are many other activities as well, including some by which companies and private firms may find themselves victims of the corrupt practices of their employees as well.

There is, therefore, a need for strong laws to eliminate all these forms of corruption. So far the anti-corruption laws have been largely restricted to public servants. This leaves a lot of activity that would otherwise be labelled as corrupt and a lot of people outside the scope of the laws. The government has rightly decided to implement an anti-corruption law that has its origins in the 2005 UN convention on corruption.  It is said to be inspired by the UK Bribery Act  which is regarded as one of the toughest laws in the world. This is all to the good and the sooner the new law is implemented, the better.
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