16th Secretariat Meeting of ASEAN Parties Against Corruption (ASEAN-PAC) successfully concluded via video conference

16th Secretariat Meeting of ASEAN Parties Against Corruption (ASEAN-PAC) successfully concluded via video conference

The National Anti-Corruption Commission of Thailand (NACC) hosted the 16th ASEAN Parties Against Corruption (ASEAN-PAC) Secretariat Meeting on 24 August 2020 via video conference. Operational-level officers from the 10 Southeast Asian anti-corruption agencies gathered online to exchange experiences and discuss their progress on anti-corruption efforts.

The 16th ASEAN-PAC Secretariat Meeting commenced with a welcoming speech from the Secretary-General of the NACC, Mr. Warawit Sukboon, who expressed the commitment of ASEAN-PAC to the ASEAN Community building process and underlined the importance of international cooperation to “ensure robust response and coordinated efforts” to overcome the challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The NACC Secretary-General highlighted that the Meeting was the first time for the ten anti-corruption agencies to convene under the new identity of ASEAN-PAC in lieu of the former name Southeast Asian Parties Against Corruption (SEA-PAC), and its first virtual gathering.

Delegations discussed and agreed on administrative amendments to the ASEAN-PAC Action Plan for 2020-2022, Terms of Reference and logo in line with the Group’s new name and to reflect its status as an entity associated with ASEAN.

This was followed by a special session on “Anti-corruption efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic: sharing experiences and best practices”. The session was held in direct response to the unprecedented challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic posed to governments and anti-corruption authorities to maintain integrity and transparency in state operations. The presentations began with Ms. Cholpon Mambetova, Integrity Specialist of the Office of Anti-Corruption and Integrity, Asian Development Bank, speaking on behalf of the Secretariat of the Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific. 

Ms. Mambetova proposed short-term and long-term responses to public procurement projects. She highlighted maintenance of accountability, and control and oversight of economic stimulus packages and cited the increased risks of integrity violations. To avoid incidences of corruption and bribery in the COVID-19 response and recovery, not only must the rule of law and enforcement of anti-bribery obligations be respected, but the use of business intermediaries must also be carefully considered in parallel with maintaining corporate governance and internal controls within the private sector, she said. 

ASEAN-PAC members also shared their experience and best practices on countering corruption risks during the pandemic. The NACC presented a report entitled “Scenarios for Corruption Prevention in the Crisis Situation: A Case Study of COVID-19” which studied and analysed corruption risks resulting from COVID-19 in several categories, including public procurement, conflict of interest and award of government contracts, and proposed possible solutions. 

ASEAN-PAC is a platform for members of the ten anti-corruption agencies in the ASEAN region to present their anti-corruption implementation and discuss ways forward to enhance the effectiveness of ASEAN anti-corruption agencies while contributing to sustainable economic and social development in the region by tackling corruption. 

Each year members take turns to host Principals and Secretariat Meetings. Prior to 16th Secretariat Meeting of ASEAN Parties Against Corruption, the NACC had the honour to host the 15th Principals Meeting and related workshops in Bangkok during 8-10 October 2019. On that occasion topics discussed included “Denying Safe Haven to Corruption Officials” and “Stolen Assets and Effective Anti-Bribery Measures for the Private Sector to Prevent Bribery of Public Officials”. 

The next Principals Meeting at the end of December will also be hosted on the video conference platform under the chairmanship of the Government Inspectorate of Vietnam.

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