FIAA is delighted to have successfully concluded the conference organized together with the Ministry of Justice on the topic “Mapping Good Anti-Corruption Practices Across Foreign Businesses in Albania and Beyond”. This event gathered the FIAA Business community, the Ministry of Justice, the National Anticorruption Directory, International partners such as the OSCE, OECD, EBRD, and other business organizations.
Corruption is a pervasive global issue that inflicts immeasurable costs in terms of human suffering, extending well beyond the financial losses incurred through bribery, embezzlement, or fraud. It manifests in a myriad of ways, ranging from the abuse of public positions by government officials and public authorities to businesses engaging in bribery and illicit profit-seeking. In either scenario, the ultimate burden falls upon the citizens and the public at large, resulting in diminished access to essential services in their daily lives.
At the focus of the conference were the collaboration between Business and Government and the Mutual Role in Promoting Business Ethics fighting corruption, more specifically the communication with foreign businesses to increase the number of cases to be reported from the businesses to the National Anticorruption Directorate. Furthermore, of special interest was the sharing of best practices from several multinational companies such as Shell, Vodafone, and Statkraft that have a long history of promoting ethics, integrity, anti-corruptions and living by these policies.
FIAA’s members are not only bringing in Albania investment, technologies, know how, but even high standards of behavior and their codes of ethics, emphasized FIAA Chairman Alessandro D’Oria in his opening remarks. Corruption is a cancer that requires all possible efforts to be defeated and the companies are active part of the efforts to create awareness among the employees in relation with several stakeholders, such as clients, providers, public institutions. Consequently, these employees can become, and actually are, citizens with better understanding of ethics and actors of spreading out this culture and mindset.
While noting findings of the European Commission in their latest report on Albania, that “corruption is prevalent in many areas of public and business life,’ Bruce Berton, Acting Head of the OSCE mission in Albania, shared the whole-of-society OSCE approach on combatting corruption which involves paramount stakeholders such as civil society, business, media, academia, and youth. To effectively combat corruption, he added, it is crucial to have an institutional and legislative framework that can remove barriers for business and can create a competitive market. Albania has made significant efforts in recent years with regard to the legislative framework and the digitalization of services but there are still many steps to undertake.
The Minister of Justice, at the same time National Anticorruption Coordinator, emphasized the necessity of continuous communication and consultation with the Foreign business community in the country to learn from the experiences of foreign business in enforcing ethics and integrity for the Albanian public administration. The deregulation reform on the elimination of bureaucracy for the services that are offered to businesses, he added, is expected to reduce the existing barriers, and thus help in increasing the interest for foreign investments in Albania.
Country Head of EBRD, Ekaterina Solovova highlighted the importance of anti-bribery and corruption compliance for businesses and government to improve and maintain a good reputation which has an effect on investments, and shared the EBRD’s approach to client capacity building which includes a 2-pillar approach including sector-wide support as well as client-specific capacity building.
OECD representative, Erekle Urushadze accentuated what governments, companies and business associations need to do to foster business integrity and combat corruption. As for the case of business associations, FIAA was delighted to perceive that its undertakings are in line with the OECD recommendations for spreading knowledge within the private sector; acting as intermediaries between governments and companies; and helping small and medium enterprises in developing anti-corruption measures.
The Conference on Business Ethics, which was financially supported by FIAA’s members Statkraft, ANTEA Cement, Shell, and Vodafone, provided opportunities for stakeholders such as employees, shareholders, business partners and civil society to come together and engage in a frank and open exchange on the measures available to prevent and respond to corruption. Its results will become part of the 2nd and upgraded edition of the FIAA Booklet on Business Ethics which is planned to be launched before the end of this year.