Today is International Anti-Corruption Day: here's why we need to talk about corruption...
The issue of corruption is present in every nation, whether it’s the Global South or the Global North, rich and developed countries or poor and developing ones. Robert Bruce Zoellick, an American public official, lawyer and the 11th president of the World Bank, as well as the former United States Deputy Secretary of State said, ‘Corruption is a cancer that steals from the poor, eats away at our governance and moral fibre and destroys trust.’ Today is International Anti-Corruption Day 2021. 2021 is a year which the United Nations has declared as the International Year of Peace and Trust and the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. This year more than ever, we must take a stance against corruption. This is not only because corruption is creating a negative economic impact on millions of lives across the world, but also because it breeds disillusionment with governments and businesses, and is often the root of political dysfunction and social disunity.
The world’s total net wealth has hit $431 trillion according to Forbes, which is nearly half a quadrillion dollars, and over a quarter of this amount is controlled by millionaires. That $431 trillion figure includes the sum of financial wealth, real assets and net of liabilities. The amount of financial wealth in the world reached $250 trillion in 2020, having grown 8.3% despite the pandemic’s worst effects. The global cost of corruption is at least $2.6 trillion, which is a wooing 5% of the world’s global GDP, believe it or not.
The more corruption in our world, the less tax revenues the government collect. This generally undermines the ability of the state to promote sustainable and inclusive growth. The hidden market of corruption drains public resources away from education, health care, and effective infrastructure, which are supposed to give back to the economic performance of our society and raise living standards for all. A great example of this is the lack of funding in one of societies’ most important institutions: the education system. The history of underfunding schools and the extra costs they have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic have brought us to crisis point, with a quarter of schools predicted a budget deficit this year. Lecturers from about 58 universities in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland were striking pension cuts as well as the overworking and underpaying of teaching professionals this month. The strikes across the UK were organised by the University and College Union (UCU), upon learning of the planned cuts to the university staff’s national pension scheme, which according to the UCU has already been effectively cut by £240,000 ($317,370), since 2011. Teaching is an important profession, but if the teachers aren’t happy with their rewards, we will see the effect in the education our children receive.
Citizens, media and politicians across all regions actively condemn abuses of power. Such a change in attitude is partly due to exposure to past scandals and their consequences. 25 years ago, the Transparency International Organisation was founded to expose the reality of corruption. Prior to this organisation, exposing corruption was regarded as a risk. A corruption organisation like this has helped exposed Venezuela’s currencies of corruption.
Less than 20 years ago, Venezuela was South America’s richest country. Today, it’s facing one of its worst humanitarian crises. The plundering of the state-owned oil company filled the pockets of a small group of individuals. With help from European and US banks, a group of Venezuelan ex-officials siphoned off $1.2 billion from PDVSA, the state-owned oil and natural gas company, and to the US, exploiting the country’s complicated currency exchange system. Officials bought Venezuelans Bolivars on the black market, at an exchange rate of 1:100 (in 2014). That means they could have bought 100 million Bolivar for $1 million. They then exchanged this money back at the official rate of 1:10, meaning they would get back $10 million – a tenfold increase. Venezuela is a country on the northern coast of South America with diverse natural attractions which with the disappearance of the economic war could be much better for its citizens.
We must take a stance against corruption for a better economy and the next generation to come. In uncertain times, it’s extremely important to have a society filled with moral fibre and trust.
Vanessa is a contributing writer for our magazine and WOTC Magazine, and an influential voice of Generation-Z . She is also a ghost writer, freelance assistant, personal brand manager, and an up-and-coming impact investor and media personality. Her interests lie in social justice, and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) analysis, as well as event management and advertisement.
Vanessa is a BA International & Political Economy student, a Financial Times News School 2021 graduate and the Founder of @cityconnectldn. City Connect Ldn is a platform which connects Gen-Z to one another and 'the city', providing them with mentors in different industries, namely in fance and politics. Her Instagram handle is @vanessa.vfo.