It is an open secret that development projects are not 100% efficient in their funds utilization and a major leakage is through corruption, frauds, kickbacks, overcharging and the likes.
The World Bank’s recent blacklisting of more than 100 firms on charges of fraud and corruption in projects financed by them, then lends credence to the established fact. What is alarming is the fact that the number of cases in the past two years investigated by the Bank’s investigative arm – Institutional Integrity Department – has risen by about 45% (441 in 2005-06 from about 300 in the period of 1999-2004).
It obviously is a clear indication that corruption could be the prime impediment to poverty elimination, as much of the $20 billion provided by the bank annually slips out as ‘lost in corruption’. Although Paul Wolfowitz has stepped up the drive to prevent the ‘scarce development dollars’ being wrongly diverted, including a Voluntary Disclosure Program (where companies involved in projects can act as whistle blowers while remaining anonymous), they are far from gauging the real impact of the menace. Just banning the corporations is not enough, the bank urgently needs to place aid sanctions against the countries involved; lest it should be soon renamed as the World Bunk.