FICAC Partners with UN-PRAC

Address by FICAC Deputy Commissioner Mr Rashmi Aslam at the launch for the Anti-Corruption Toolkit for Women-Owned Micro, Small and Medium Businesses in Fiji:

It is indeed a great honour and privilege to be here witnessing the launch of the Anti-Corruption toolkit for Women owned Micro Small and Medium Businesses in Fiji. It’s a great and timely initiative and I must thank our UNPRAC friends for making it a reality. This toolkit I hope will not only help you understand corruption, it will also empower you, especially the women entrepreneurs to show defiance in the face of corruption.

As you may well know, corruption is an evil phenomenon. It is not a victim-less crime, as some may wrongly perceive. It’s not a win-win situation that occurs behind the scenes. For every act of corruption, there is a victim at large who is suffering as a consequence of these unlawful and immoral acts. In macro levels, it cripples economies. In micro levels, particularly in businesses, it increases the difficulty in doing business. It brings additional costs to transactions. It decreases your profit. Stirs up unfair competitions and breeds inequality.

Women in business are not immune to these pernicious effects of corruption. In fact they may be perceived as weaker or even more vulnerable especially when it comes to bargaining with corrupt officials. Informal payments and other types of favours, including sexual favours, solicited by corrupt public officials perpetuate far more serious repercussions particularly to women entrepreneurs than their male counterpart. In other words, gender inequality has been a direct cause for rampant corruption in society.

Therefore, not being aware of the laws and your rights will make you easy targets placing you in a disadvantageous position in the competitive world of business. The time is now to take serious and meaningful actions to empower women entrepreneurs and build resilience to fight corruption. Hence, the importance of launching of this toolkit cannot be emphasised enough as it is invaluable and timely.

This toolkit provides essential guidelines to understand the issue of corruption in Fiji. It will take you through the anti- corruption laws of Fiji, guide you to identify the high-risk areas of your respective business operations and will also impart you with the basic mechanisms to conduct corruption risk assessments. These, of course, are critical initial steps to eradicate corruption within the business sectors. In doing so, it is very pleasing to observe that WEBC has taken a stance with a strong and collective voice to fight against corruption.

At this important juncture, let me re-assure you of the support and commitment of the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption in your endeavour to thriving in business ethically. We wish to work closely with you in many aspects. FICAC has the ability to provide awareness and specialised training programs to women entrepreneurs in MSME throughout Fiji. Further, FICAC can also assist you to conduct advance corruption risk assessments and also work with you to build integrity and business ethics through our corporate integrity pledge program. You can access those details about those programs from FICAC website. Thankfully, UNPRAC has been an immense support in our fight against corruption in Fiji. I sincerely believe that such a holistic approach will complement the goals aimed to achieve through this toolkit.

I envisage that the toolkit will provide the desired impetus to fight corruption even rigorously. We hope this will inculcate the values such as integrity and transparency in achieving an ethical business culture that will contribute to the true economic prosperity of our Fiji.