Citizens everywhere rely on public sector services to deliver basic services, from electricity, transportation, policing and security, to hospitals and schools. The public sector provides utilities, manages national resources, regulates the private sector, collects taxes and distributes pensions and other benefits. However, efficient service delivery and good financial management depends on institutions that adhere to principles of integrity, transparency and accountability, broad participation and responsiveness.
Governance challenges are present in all countries, yet small and less developed states in particular face lack of institutional capacity and limited human and financial resources. For many countries, corruption is a major challenge. Left unaddressed, the culture of public administration gets degraded, fewer resources are directed to vital services such as health and education, and economic development is constrained.
The Commonwealth works with governments and national authorities to uphold transparency and accountability in public service and root out corruption. Special emphasis is paid to strengthening public administrations and financial management institutions and systems in small and less developed states. For example, we developed a roadmap for Sierra Leone to establish a single treasury account, which brought together hundreds of commercial bank accounts – saving the country over £1 million annually.
We bring together ministries of finance, cabinet secretaries and civil service heads in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific to learn from each other, and have built global and regional networks, such as the Commonwealth Pacific Central Agencies Network, Commonwealth Public Procurement Network, as well as Commonwealth associations of anti-corruption agencies in both Africa and the Caribbean.
Together with the Government of Botswana, we set up the Commonwealth Africa Anti-Corruption Centre to assist countries with capacity-building in corruption prevention, investigations, forensics and prosecutions. In addition, we have helped to strengthen domestic legal frameworks by promoting the Commonwealth’s Model Law on Integrity in Public Life.
Our work has helped to increase integrity in public sector decision-making and financial management in Commonwealth member countries, the effect of which - in terms of setting best practice and making countries more attractive for investment - is felt the world over.
Bringing together policy-makers and establishing international networks is proving effective, as successful initiatives in one country or region are adopted by others. This helps to embed best practices in the fight against graft and to prevent financial mismanagement.
In promoting good governance, we are helping countries secure growth and poverty alleviation, because effective institutions, sound financial management and integrity in public office make for better public services.