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Private sector compact to promote ethical behaviour

The Samoa Chamber of Commerce has joined members of the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (P.I.P.S.O.) in the fight against corruption through the establishment of a shared code of conduct that hopes to benefit the community.  

A former Australian Member of Parliament, journalist and media trainer, John Hyde, said the Chamber is very active in training its more than 340 members in terms of best practices. 

Samoa recently adopted the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (U.N.-P.R.A.C.) Convention and Mr. Hyde said Samoa is interested to see how it is impacted by the Government’s signing and commitment to the Convention. 

“U.N.-P.R.A.C. has been active throughout the Pacific working with the private sector particularly in developing codes of conduct,” he said.  

“And what we find today is that where traditionally many people have seen corruption as an area that applies to the public sector, more and more the people are realizing that the private sector can be involved in the chain of corruption,

“So if we are really committed to preventing corruption and stopping the huge deficits that it causes to the Pacific communities, than we have to be working with educating the private sector and helping them to prevent corruption.” 

Mr. Hyde said the Chamber will adopt a template code of conduct to discuss with its members and assist them at the end of a workshop on reporting on corruption this week.

He said the code of conduct is one important tool that private sectors need to adopt to prevent corruption, and is different from code of practice:

"Code of practice such as journos in Samoa are part of goes to 35-36 pages, which is on intricate ways of practising so you do this, you do that.

“But a good of conduct will be looking at the most ethical behaviour, so it looks at the issue of gift giving and accepting gifts, and rejecting nepotism for example.

“One of the issues we find in local governments and other areas is that people adopt dos and don’ts. So when you have dos and don’ts people think they are acting ethically, but by having a good code of conduct that organisations have discussed, embraced and understood, it actually ends up in the changing behaviour, which is the key to cutting corruption and stopping corrupt behaviour.”  

He explained the Convention has three sections that directly address the private sector.

“In terms of best practices, what the private sectors should be doing and also the government and multi-nationals company how they should be acting so that there is a level-playing field and that there is ethical behaviour. 

“If companies are acting ethically, and there are no bribes, if tenders aren’t being given to friends, relatives than that it’s the community that benefits.”

“The benefit of U.N-P.R.A.C. is that Samoa is one of the 186 countries, so there is the ability to be monitoring transnational transaction to help make foreign customers feel confident that if they are transferring money into Samoa that it’s actually going to be reaching private sector company that’s going to supply a product back to them in Europe or Asia.”

Mr. Hyde said while such initiative may indicate an existence of corrupt activities, it is also evidence of a more transparent community:

“I think (in Samoa) where people are more aware that corruption does occur, that there are human beings who cheat, steal, lie, so we have to ensure that there are systems in place that can ideally prevent that from happening but also that can catch people who are doing the wrong thing. 

“If you have discussions around the code of conduct, what is ethical in our relationship with customers, discussions will inform everyone that look, our relations and culture are important, but this is wrong, than everybody is benefiting.”  

Mr. Hyde is in Samoa with delegation from the Fiji-based U.N. office for a workshop on reporting on corruption.  

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