On February 15, 2018, the Forum of Federations, in cooperation with Mexico’s Public Administration Ministry, with funding provided by the Embassy of Canada in Mexico, held a one-day workshop on measures to reduce corruption in the public sector. The event brought together private and public-sector actors to contribute to the implementation of Mexico’s newly created National Anti-Corruption System. Discussions focused on actions to strengthen the technical capacities of CEOs, senior administrators and technicians in the private and public sectors. These actions include: whistleblower legislation to protect officials who identify corruption, ethics training, conflict of interest and administrative policies to deter and punish corruption.
This workshop brought together public officials from Mexico’s Departments of Public Administration, Attorney General and External Affairs, as well as civil society representatives from Transparency Mexico, Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, Network for Accountability and the National Business Council. The Forum of Federations identified and sponsored the participation of Lynn Tomson (Public Service Procurement Canada) and Kathleen Clarkin (Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada).
The National Anti-Corruption System (SNA) was created in Feb 2017 and, despite the legislated deadline of July 2017, has only been fully implemented in 10 of 32 states. IMCO estimates the cost of corruption to Mexico’s economy to be more than 53 billion USD/year (the World Bank’s estimate is even higher at nearly 100 billion USD/year) and Canadian companies and investors report corruption and lack of transparency as the greatest challenges to their operations and investments in Mexico.
The workshop was opened with welcoming remarks from Pierre Alarie, Canada’s Ambassador to Mexico. Mexican speakers presented on advances made in the implementation of the SNA, the recent successful negotiation of the anti-corruption clause in ongoing NAFTA discussions, and specific efforts to support public officials to identify and reveal wrongdoing in the public and private sectors. Public officials from Canada shared experiences on whistleblower protection, values and ethics in the public service and the transparency and accountability frameworks that surround public procurement by the federal government.
It was clear that both Canada and Mexico can benefit from increased dialogue on the issue of anti-corruption. Enhanced economic integration has placed pressure on both countries to develop rules and procedures to create a level commercial playing field, and both countries are committed to monitoring and regulating the international activities of their respective corporations. In particular, Canada and Mexico should continue to support each other in the areas of supporting whistleblowers, providing ethics and values training to public officials, and developing protocols to avoid conflicts of interest in procurement and decision-making. To this end, this first meeting resulted in the immediate outcome of forming an informal network of change agents within government and change proponents outside of government (both Mexican and Canadian), and commitments to continue this important work.
Picture credit: politicomx https://politico.mx/…/m%C3%A9xico-y-canad%C3%A1-preparan-a…/