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Parliamentary Monitoring And Reporting Is Critical In Dealing With COVID-19 Responses

"The risk of fraud and corruption is compounded during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. When quick decisions are necessary to move vast amounts of resources, bribery, fraud and corruption abound," says Suzanne Snively, Chair of Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ). "We must anticipate this now to avoid dilution of our government's relief and recovery efforts."

To ensure accountability that prevents corruption, TINZ urges that strong oversight measures be built into the Government's response to the pandemic, in its relief efforts and legislation.

Billions of taxpayers' dollars are at stake. Unless policies designed to get money out include controls to weed out fraudulent claims and mandate oversight, we will not prevent the corrupt from redirecting resources for personal gain. Without effective oversight measures in place, bribery, corruption and fraud have the potential to prolong the transmission of the virus to New Zealanders while undermining our economic recovery.

Government procurement and conflict management practices designed around transparency will enable people to see that resources are going towards fighting the virus, relief and economic recovery where most needed.

TINZ commends the transparency of our Government and our Parliament in dealing with Covid-19 to date. It welcomes the establishment of an Epidemic Response Committee to scrutinize the use of emergency powers. It applauds the cross-government balance of this committee, the appointment the Leader of the Opposition as chair, and that its meetings are accessible live online. See Epidemic Response Committee terms of reference.

Instead of being a rubber stamp, if the committee prioritises its oversight and monitoring role, it can further prevent attempts to corrupt and derail the relief process.

Transparency and accountability provides information so that the public can see that funds are used for economic recovery.

Meantime, by keeping well, being kind and staying trustworthy, all New Zealanders can contribute to our future wellbeing.

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