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Corruption is a global epidemic that robs the needy, average citizens, countries such as the U.S. that contribute generously to international development and aid programs, and just about everyone else. Transparency International (TI) is a watchdog organization "devoted to combating corruption, brings civil society, business, and governments together in a powerful global coalition." TI includes an International Secretariat and more than 85 independent national chapters around the world.

TI annually issues a detailed Global Corruption Report that discusses various aspects and impacts of corruption around the world, corruption by industrial sector and corruption by country. The 2005 Report focuses on one the most corruption-plagued industries, construction.

As the TI Report explains, "Corruption in the construction sector not only plunders economies, it shapes them. ... The costs of corruption in the construction and engineering sector are not limited to money. The damage caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes is magnified in places where corrupt building practices flourish.... Corruption in the construction sector also ravages the environment. Many projects have progressed only because bribes were paid to ignore environmental and social hazards...."

Examples of questionable construction projects cited by TI include: The Yacyretá hydropower project on the border of Argentina and Paraguay, the Jatigede dam on the Cimanuk River in Indonesia, the reservoir of the Bakun dam in Sarawak, Malaysia, and the Bujagali dam in Uganda.

The Report includes recommendations for the public and private sectors. However, as Francis Fukuyama of Johns Hopkins University explains in the Forward to the Report, "Construction projects are big and complex and, most important, they involve lots of money. ... Iraq in particular serves as an example of the dilemmas faced by nation-builders.... How to balance competing requirements for honesty and efficacy is an ongoing dilemma with, as this report indicates, no easy solutions."

On an unrelated note, The Washington Post reports that Louisiana's congressional delegation has included $40 billion in the proposed quarter-trillion dollar Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery bill for Army Corps of Engineers projects, an amount "16 times the amount the Corps has said it would need to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane." The proposed legislation would also "create a powerful ‘Pelican Commission' controlled by Louisiana residents that would decide which Corps projects to fund, and ordered the commission to consider several controversial navigation projects that have nothing to do with flood protection." Furthermore, "the bill would exempt any Corps projects approved by the commission from provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act. It would also waive the usual Corps cost-sharing requirements, ensuring that federal taxpayers would pay every dime."

  • Click here for Transparency International
  • Click here for TI's Global Corruption Report 2005


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