Over the weekend the Telegraph reported that the Bribery Act’s guidance notes are just days away from being released. Under pressure from the US government and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development the government is now expected to publish the guidance notes by the end of this week.
Whilst we’re happy to finally hear that the guidance notes are to be published, the government’s delay has been highly worrying. Passed under an all party consensus under Labour and receiving Royal Assent in April last year, the Bribery Act is long overdue.
As we’ve blogged, the Act has come under significant lobbying and criticism from the City of London, business groups, the London Stock Exchange and, not surprisingly the multinational chairman’s group whose members, according to the Guardian include BP, Shell, Diageo, Unilever and Vodafone. Indeed, John Cridland, the director-general of the Confederation of Business Industry, or as his biography describes himself, ‘the voice of business’ has argued that the Act is ‘not fit for purpose’.
What about the voice of those who suffer the cost and consequences of bribery?
Let’s not kid ourselves, bribery is real, serious and disastrous. It is fair that the government hears all sides concerned but it is of vital importance that all voices in the consultation period are heard.
That is what we, with you, have endeavoured to do. It is our goal to give a voice to those who believe that bribery, in all its forms, should be stamped out. It’s our government, and we deserve a say in how it operates and who it listens to.
And that is what the Bribery Act campaign is about. It’s us, ordinary everyday people, joining together to take a stand- to hold our leaders to account and to demand a better standard of accountable, ethical, governance. We don’t tolerate bribery in our personal lives so why should the government allow our businesses to operate in such a way?
With the Bribery Act, the Government has an opportunity to become a leader in the global effort against corruption. It’s an opportunity it shouldn’t waste.
That’s why we at the Global Poverty Project, along with our friends at Transparency International believe that the guidance notes, which form the basis of the Bribery Act, should be released without amendment and that the Act should be implemented as soon as possible.
That’s why over the past few months we’ve written blog articles, sent out numerous email campaigns, and worked closely with Transparency International in keeping a close watch on the government.
And now, we’re about to find out.
We will continue to keep you informed and updated as to the content of the guidance notes. We expect that with the release of the guidance notes the Government will demonstrate with action, and not words, its commitment to combating bribery and the corrosive effect it has on society, business and most importantly those who suffer its’ effects the most – the poor.