According to the WEF, discussing the “C word” has long been a sensitive topic at inter-governmental organisations but the IMF hosted a refreshingly frank discussion on the subject.
Source: Corruption: The hidden tax on global growth – Agenda – The World Economic Forum
The article cites one 2005 study estimating that the global cost of bribery alone could be as high as 1.5 trillion dollars (in the order of 2 percent of the world’s current GDP). Reference is made to other studies highlighting that a strong correlation between lower levels of corruption and long-term improvements in GDP per capita and in human development indices. The bottom line is that corruption is effectively a tax on growth and investment. With working and middle classes families everywhere struggling to provide for their families, this is significant.
As a final thought corruption is not just a problem in the developing world. In recent years, the European Parliament has had difficulty in getting an unconditional audit sign-off.
I have no magic solutions to this challenge but involving global institutions, like the IMF seems a good start. However, I worry that perhaps the United Nations has allowed itself to be marginalized by powerful lobbying?
Also what’s relevent is perhaps not so much the absolute level of corruption in a country but the improvement or deterioration. In this regard surely China is a beacon of hope?