Today 9-December is International Anti-Corruption Day. Corruption hurts all of us. At an individual level, it increases the amount of tax paid by us as taxpayers, raises the prices that we pay for goods and services without increasing what we get for this, and lowers the quality of goods and services we receive. It hurts the economy because it pushes up inequality, poverty, job losses and unemployment, which in turn increases crime; it raises the number of freeloaders; it increases inflation, lowers foreign direct and domestic investments, distorts and misuses public investments; and devastatingly, it eats into public revenues and budgets for education, healthcare, medicine, crime-fighting and other critical services. These are just some of the negative effects of corruption.
As much as we’d like to, we cannot ever stop corruption completely, because there is a lot happening that we don’t even know about. But we can do something about it. We can reduce it in 2 ways:
- We can report it whenever we see it. In fact, this is why we started FraudCracker, to give you a voice in the fight against fraud and corruption, without anyone knowing your name.
- And we can say no to corruption and unethical behaviour when these happen in our daily lives. That means saying no to bribes that are offered to us, and not offering these ourselves. Even if it means paying the full price for a traffic fine. Or not getting that business tender. It means speaking up even when you benefit from keeping quiet. Even if it means owning up for your mistakes that no-one has yet noticed. Or telling the cashier when they undercharge you at the checkout, or give you too much change.
It all starts and stops with us, with you and me. Because our children see our behaviour today, and will behave the same way tomorrow. If they see us as parents offering or accepting bribes, or behaving unethically, then that’s what they’ll do tomorrow. Even it is something small like being undercharged. Corruption and unethical behaviour start out small, and grow bigger as you get away with more and more, and become greedier and more daring.
So starting today, International Anti-Corruption Day, let’s do things differently. Let’s stop corruption while it’s still small and manageable. This is my challenge to myself and to you. Let’s say no to corruption and wrongdoing today, and stop the rot for our children tomorrow!