Corruption risks in public procurement in the context of COVID-19 in Pacific island countries

Oct 26, 2021

Public procurement is a critical function of government. The value achieved from public procurement in many countries directly impacts the well-being of its citizens as it provides healthcare, welfare, education and other essential services. However, the value of public procurement may never have been more apparent than it is now, with the COVID-19 pandemic requiring governments to respond rapidly to the immediate social and public health challenges, as well as enact sweeping and sizable economic support and stimulus measures to respond to the economic impacts.

While already in pre-COVID-19 times, there was substantial corruption risk in public procurement due to the large amounts of money that governments spend every day, the increases in spending in order to address the economic, social, and health impacts of COVID-19 appear to have also led to a governance crisis and created more opportunities for corruption to flourish. Additionally, the need to disperse such large amounts quickly to respond to the urgent needs of citizens, has led to regulatory, budgetary and accounting safeguards often being relaxed to allow for more rapid assistance, increasing the risk that public funds may be diverted into private hands.

This brief was prepared by the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) Project, a joint initiative by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), supported by the Australian Government and the New Zealand Aid Programme.

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