Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Thursday challenged the private sector from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) member-economies to help curb bribery and fraud in their enterprise in order to attain a corruption-free business climate in the region.
Addressing the start of the two-day “Forum on the Implementation of the Apec Anti-Corruption Code of Conduct for Business” in Makati City, Morales said that business must put principles ahead of profit to truly enjoy the blessings of a robust economy.
She said business must also be a social enterprise that revolves around a platform of social change, starting with a “non-negotiable policy” of not tolerating bribery in any form.
“Profit is not the only bottom line. Pecuniary interest and public interest—what used to be considered as incompatible principles—go side by side in a social enterprise,” the Ombudsman said.
Marriage of both worlds
“In a way, it is the marriage of both worlds—the sometimes opposing but powerful concepts of (company) profitability and social mission—as it draws upon the best thinking in both the business and nonprofit worlds to develop strategies that maximize their social impact. Yes, it is possible,” she stressed.
Morales said eliminating bribery, along with red tape, can get budding business ventures started and keep thriving businesses afloat, while good governance can lead to inclusive growth, more jobs, poverty reduction and eventually, greater prosperity for people within the region.
She echoed the opinion of Austrian satirist Karl Kraus who said that corruption is worse than prostitution, for the latter might endanger the morals of an individual while the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.
She said that business reform has been the latest buzzword in the corporate world, following the rounds of economic downturn and exposes of corporate fraud, such as the allegations of fraudulent transactions hurled against corporate giants like Enron, Madoff and Goldman Sachs, among others.
She noted that the government’s regulatory arms have started to put emphasis on corporate social responsibility and corporate governance, while business schools have added more business ethics courses or electives.
Likewise, people have been searching for alternative ways of doing business while stakeholders are studying initiatives on how to mitigate the risk of doing business with companies strongly suspected or known to be corrupt, she said.
Morales also focused on the basic tenets of fair play such an honest and fair assessment of the qualifications of industry actors vis-a-vis the scale of the project to be given in the field of procurement.