Corruption risk assessment of public procurement in Jordan, SIGMA, Amman 30 January 2017 (Opening speech)
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DELEGATION TO THE HASHEMITE KINGDOM OF JORDAN
Mr Andrea Matteo Fontana, Ambassador
Launching Ceremony of SIGMA Report on 'Integrity risk
assessment in the Jordanian Procurement System'
January 2017, JICC, Amman
Your Excellency, Dr Abdel Hadi Alaween, Vice President of the
Jordanian Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission,
I would like to first thank the Jordan Integrity and Anti-Corruption
Commission for organising this conference together with SIGMA/OECD.
We are here to review and discuss this important assessment of the
corruption risks in the procurement system of Jordan and how to address
Public procurement has a major impact on national economies. As the
report we are launching today states, in OECD countries alone public
procurement accounts for up to 12% of GDP and almost 30% of
government expenditures in 2013. In Jordan it is close to 40% of the
state budget. These figures are staggering.
But public procurement is also the government's activity which is most
vulnerable to corruption. As the major interface between the public and
the private sectors, public procurement bears the risk of diverting public
resources for private gains.
A transparent, efficient and corruption-free public procurement system
can benefit countries and societies in many ways. Let me here mention
three of them. Firstly, considering the significant amounts of public
resources channelled through public procurement systems, even
marginal savings can add up very fast. And in a country like Jordan,
which is struggling with an increasing budget deficit and very limited
fiscal space, these savings can help finance pro-growth policies.
Secondly, the benefits of an efficient and transparent procurement
system are not only financial. Weaknesses in public procurement
processes lead to the delivery of costly, un-efficient, untimely and
unsuitable services and infrastructure, with a detrimental impact on
people's lives. This could affect the availability of vital hospital
equipment, of textbooks for public schools, the building of roads and
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other key infrastructure etc. The consequences of these are evident to
Thirdly, public procurement is the prerogative of the government whose
results, the citizens 'see' and experience every day. It is in fact what
drives people's satisfaction with public services and what they use to
'measure' the effectiveness of state agencies and institutions in
upholding justice, equality, transparency and accountability.
Corruption in procurement therefore undermines people's confidence in
the ability of governments to fulfil their welfare functions and to preserve
and support the rule of law. And as His Majesty King Abdullah II stated in
his sixth discussion paper, rule of law is the main underpinning of a
properly functioning nation. It is the very foundation upon which
successful democracies and prosperous economies are built. Failure to
preserve and support it undermines the basis of our society.
These are uncertain times for governments around the world. Unpopular
decisions to manage decreasing available resources and ensure security
and prosperity of citizens have to be taken. And we are all aware of the
additional challenges Jordan is facing because of regional instability and
conflicts in neighbouring countries. An effective, efficient and transparent
public procurement is a necessary – though often undervalued and
underutilised - policy instrument to promote growth, employment and
generally the well-being of societies.
I shall commend the JIACC for having requested this important review;
the OECD/SIGMA team for the excellent work of the past months and all
the government institutions which were involved in the exercise for the
support provided. The European Union is proud to have contributed to it.
As the report highlights there are important challenges ahead and room
for improvement. We hope that steps will be taken soon to implement the
recommendations that the report presents. Allow me to single out one of
them – that is the development and adoption of a coherent, sound and
modern institutional and regulatory framework for public procurement.
This is a vital reform that will strengthen confidence in the effectiveness
and fairness of the system.
I would also like to stress that the European Union is channelling around
60% of its development assistance through budget support. By doing this
we fully rely on the government rules and procedures – including in
public procurement – for the effective delivery of our grants. Should the
government's systems fail, our assistance – whether it is in support to the
justice system, to the management of solid waste or the education sector
- will fail to deliver to the people of Jordan
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Let me conclude by reiterating also our continued support to Jordan's
endeavours to fight corruption in all sectors of society. We look forward
to continuing working with the JIACC through our different financing
instruments. Our support to the JIACC reflects a strong partnership that
we have with Jordan. This is why we are further exploring how EU tools
like Twinning and TAIEX can help implement the National Integrity and
Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017 – 2025 and how European expertise and
best practices in law enforcement, handling of complaints and
grievances amongst others areas can enhance JIACC's ability to monitor
and counter corruption in the country.
Thank you again to the JIACC for organising this event. I wish you all