Sunday, November 15, 2009

Corruption- key definitions

Corruption has been categorised into types such as petty or survival corruption practised by poorly paid public servants, and grand corruption which involves theft of vast amounts of public resources. It is also categorised into political, corporate and even moral corruption. In whatever way you look at it, corruption has an element of moral breakdown; the corrupt ignore acceptable practice and put their needs above the needs of the public.

Transparency International defines corruption simply as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. For the purpose of this paper, I have chosen to use the definition contained in Section 2 of the Inspectorate of Government Act 2002, where corruption is defined as “abuse of public office for private gain and includes but is not limited to embezzlement, bribery, nepotism, influence peddling, theft of public funds or assets, fraud, forgery, causing financial or property loss, and false accounting in public affairs.”

Embezzlement: The act of dishonestly taking or using resources by persons entrusted with authority and control over those resources. It is theft of public resources (softened by calling it “misappropriation of funds”).

Bribery: The promise, offer or giving of any benefit that improperly affects the actions or decisions of a public official. A bribe may be money, inside information, gifts, entertainment, sexual or other favours, a job, company shares, etc.

Nepotism: The act of giving unfair consideration to family members and/or relatives for appointment to the public service, award of contracts from public resources and the benefit resources at the expense of other members of the public. Cronyism (favouring friends) and Patronage (favouring supporters) closely relate to this.

Influence Peddling: Participation by public officials – in the course of their official work – in a decision in which they have private interest or from which they stand to gain (directly or indirectly).

Fraud: Deliberate deception, and this is usually through forgery.

Accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position.

Ethics is a set of moral norms or rules that are recognized to regulate actions of a particular group of people or society, culture or professional association.

Governance is the manner in which the State acquires and exercises its authority to provide public goods and services

Integrity is a steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code or freedom from corrupting influence or motive---used especially with reference to the fulfillment of contracts, the discharge of agencies, trusts and the like.

Local Government: A local council that is a body corporate and is the highest center of authority in its area of jurisdiction as spelt out in Sections 3 and 9 of the Local Governments Act.

Strategy: A plan of action or policies designed to achieve a major or overall aim.

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