CADE joins the corruption chorus

1 December 2018

On 28 November, the annual conference of business executives (CADE) kicked off in the tourist town of Paracas, near Ica. Taking its cue from the political climate described above, the headline concern was what the private sector could do to reduce corruption in public life.

Not only have politicians taken a severe knock from the Odebrecht and other scandals, but major private sector interests too, not least those Peruvian companies that partnered Odebrecht in using corrupt means to win mega-contracts. These have shaken the local business world.

The annual CADE meeting is one in which businesses present their credentials to a sceptical public, openly lobbying for their sectoral interests. Usually, business lobbies operate in a more furtive fashion, using the agency of specialist consultancies to push for their demands.

There can be no denying the force of business in public policy making over the last three decades. The Fujimori government first put the corporate world in the driving seat in the 1990s, yet the return to democracy in 2001 brought little discernible change. Arguably, business influence reached a peak during Alan García’s second administration (2006-11), but it has hardly attenuated since.

A flurry of recent reports and studies have identified the damage done to the Peruvian economy through corrupt dealing, and Peru is seen by some as one of the countries most exposed to business corruption. Francisco Durand’s recent book on Odebrecht provides an overview of how this Brazilian giant penetrated Peru, corrupting politics and business alike. Both the IMF and the Inter-American Development Bank have recently focused attention on the cost of corruption. But the Peruvian business world appears yet to fully absorb this message

Commenting on CADE’s highlighting of corruption as an issue, David Reyes of Semana Economica (produced by Apoyo S.A., one of the key business think tanks/consultancies), remarks that it is not enough to be talking about policies to combat corruption but to make to apply them in practice. He writes “the agenda for CADE puts the struggle against corruption in prime time. What’s needed is real commitment since words and promises are blown away in the wind. Let’s hope that the event helps us take the issue seriously and bring an end to this absurd [record of] denial”.

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