A meeting in Dublin this week of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (the OSCE) was addressed by the Minister for Small Business and SME Envoy for Europe, Mr John Perry TD.
With 56 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America, the OSCE is the world’s largest regional security organisation. It offers a forum for political negotiations and decision-making in the fields of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation, and puts the political will of its participating States into practice through its network of field missions.
The meeting had the theme of “Promoting Security and Stability through Good Governance”, and was visited by delegates from around the world.
Mr Perry said that “Promoting good governance is amongst the most important OSCE commitments in the economic and environmental dimension. Good governance is a concept that impacts every aspect of work of a security organisation such as the OSCE. Moreover, it is a principle that should guide national and international policy making. Good governance centres around a belief that when government is more equitable, more transparent, and more accountable, the needs of our citizens are better cared for, our economies are more efficient, and ultimately our states more secure. I hope this is a view to which we can all subscribe.”
Mr Perry made the link between good governance and socio-economic development. “It takes only a quick look at the ‘World Bank Doing Business report’ or the ‘Transparency International Corruption Perception Index’ to understand the importance of good governance and transparency. Both are central to developing stable and sustainable economies and both are key elements in the establishment of a friendly business environment,” he said.
Indeed, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2011 shows that Ireland’s ranking has fallen, and it now compares poorly to other northern European nations. The CPI 2011 ranks 183 countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption. Ireland ranks 19 out of 183 countries with a score of 7.5 out of ten. Last year Ireland held 14th position with a score of 8. The scores range from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean). The CPI measures perceptions of business people and experts of corruption in the public sector, including corruption involving public officials, civil servants or politicians.
“Poor governance has the potential to destabilise a state both economically and politically,” said Mr Perry. “First and foremost, a corrupt environment distorts competition. It also generates a mis-allocation of resources and leads to reduced levels of investment. Corruption imposes costs on an economy. These are costs which neither states nor citizens should have to pay. Nor indeed, in the current economic climate, can they afford to pay them. Where corruption becomes endemic, it erodes the legitimacy of the government and can become a destabilising force.
“For businesses to prosper, a transparent and predictable economic environment is crucial. Moreover, they require clear and coherent laws along with rules and regulations. These also must be backed up by efficient and credible institutions to enforce them. All represent incentives for both domestic and foreign investments, as well as for the development of a vibrant Small and Medium Enterprise sector. In turn, this facilitates job creation, economic growth, and financial security,” he said.