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CVC’s ‘Integrity Pact’ against Corruption

  • Category
    Ethics
  • Published
    31st Jan, 2022

Context

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has again modified the criteria for the nomination of Independent External Monitors (IEM) in government bodies, months after it had issued a revised standard operating procedure for adoption and implementation of the ‘Integrity Pact’ clause, which is meant to prevent corruption in public procurement.

Background

  • In June 2021, the Commission had issued the revised guidelines for adoption and implementation of the ‘Integrity Pact’, also specifying the eligibility criteria for nomination of IEMs, who oversee the execution of the clause.
  • They give recommendations to the authorities concerned after examining the complaints related to any contract.
  • Following feedback and suggestions from the Chief Vigilance Officers and other individuals, the CVC decided to modify the criteria.
  • Accordingly, through an order, the zone of consideration for empanelment as IEMs has been revised.

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

  • The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), set up by the Government of India in February, 1964, as an apex vigilance institution to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance.
  • It is free of control from any executive authority, monitoring all vigilance activities and advising the Central Government’s various authorities in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work.

Analysis

What is integrity?

  • “Integrity” is about the ethics of behavior of everyone involved in governance.
  • Integrity refers to the moral quality of the governance process, which is important for the legitimacy and credibility of (public) power. 

What is an Integrity Pact (IP)?

Transparency International defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”.

  • The Integrity Pact (IP) is an anti-corruption tool to help governments, businesses and civil society intent on fighting corruption in the field of public contracting and procurement.
  • It is mandatory for all government organisations, public sector enterprises, public sector banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions and autonomous bodies etc.
  • It is essentially envisages an agreement between the prospective vendors/bidders and the buyer, committing the persons/officials of both sides not to resort to any corrupt practices in any aspect/stage of the contract.
  • It consists of an agreement between a government or a government department (hereafter referred to as the Principal) and all bidders for a contract.
  • The IP sets out their rights and obligations to the effect that neither side will pay, offer, demand or accept bribes, and/or collude with competitors to obtain the contract, or while carrying it out.
  • Only those vendors/ bidders, who commit themselves to such a Pact with the buyer, would be considered competent to participate in the bidding process. In other words, entering into this Pact would be a preliminary qualification.

Players of IP

  • The Company, i.e., Principal
  • The vendors, i.e., Counter-party
  • The Independent External Monitor (IEM)

What is integrity of the Public Sector?

  • The integrity of the public sector refers to the quality of actions taken by public servants, measured on the basis of fundamental rules and public values.

Definition

  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines “integrity of the public sector” as “the application of values, principles and norms in the daily operations of public sector organisations.”
  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) notes that “one of the fundamental standards of conduct derives from the requirement of integrity. Integrity implies not only honesty, truthfulness and freedom from corrupting influences but also integrity as an international public official.”

What is the need of ‘integrity’ in government functioning?

  • Integrity has become a concept and topic with more prominence in research on government and governance, as well as in actual policy making at all levels. 
  • Significance for all sectors: However, it is to be noted that integrity is not only important in government and governance, but it has become more important in all sectors of society.
  • Integrity is a cornerstone of a system of sound public governance. It assures citizens that the government is working in their interest, not just for the select few, and is vital for the economic prosperity and well-being of society as a whole.
  • Integrity is a crucial determinant of trust. 
  • Integrity policies, aimed at preventing corruption and fostering high standards of behaviour, help to reinforce the credibility and legitimacy of those involved in policy decision making, safeguarding the public interest and restoring confidence in the policy making process.  

Conclusion

Integrity is essential for building strong institutions and assures citizens that the government is working in their interest, not just for the select few. Integrity is not just a moral issue, it is also about making economies more productive, public sectors more efficient, societies and economies more inclusive. It is about restoring trust, not just trust in government, but trust in public institutions, regulators, banks, and corporations.

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