Fighting corruption is not just a moral imperative but also a democratic, political, social, and economic obligation, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says.
Yudhoyono made the statement in his opening address at the International Conference on Foreign Bribery in Business Transactions 2011 in Bali on Tuesday.
Present in the conference were Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) officials and representatives of law enforcement and corruption eradication from the G-20, OECD, APEC and Asian Development Bank, as well as national and foreign observers.
“This gathering is truly a corrupter’s worst nightmare! Thank you for taking part in this very important conference, to talk about combating bribery in international business transactions,” Yudhoyono said, adding that fighting graft had been a cornerstone of his administration.
Commenting on bribery cases, the president said the money spent on bribes meant the money was not used to improve roads, schools and hospitals.
“By turning a blind eye to a bribe here and a bribe there, we are compromising the quality of life for ourselves, our parents, our children. We all pay the price. Ultimately, bribery robs all of us of true progress and economic growth,” Yudhoyono said.
He said that even today, systemic corruption continued, and in developing countries, it did so by taking advantage of the global financial network.
The corrupt exploit the international financial network, covering their tracks in foreign jurisdictions, he said, adding that as long as these “safe havens” existed, people would continue to siphon money and send it overseas, he said.
“We cannot keep on supporting this endemic problem,” the president said, adding that the World Bank estimated that bribery accounted for some 3 per cent of the world’s economy, or more than $1 trillion dollars.
He said bribery was prevalent in tax evasion efforts, and it was also rife in the investment sector, particularly foreign investment.
But Yudhoyono said law enforcement agencies were not keeping idle for some 150 companies and individuals, in more than 10 countries have been charged with bribery and duly punished.
“Today, some 250 cases remain under investigation. Yet, these efforts have not been enough.”