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Sun June 13 2021

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Anti-corruption initiative targets trillions in savings

22 Oct 12 Openness and accountability in public infrastructure could save US$2.5 trillion (£1.6 trillion) by 2020, according to an international initiative launched today.

The Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) has been introduced following a three-year pilot project.

The UK was one of the pilot countries, where projects reviewed by CoST have been set out as examples of best practice, and give a strong basis for projections on potential savings. The UK Government has also committed to implementing CoST as part of its programme to reduce infrastructure costs by £2.5bn per annum.

It estimates that, by 2020, upwards of US$2.5 trillion annually could be lost on an international level through corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency in construction. Governments and the international construction sector now have the potential to combat this by signing up to the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST).

The organisations behind the initiative include the World Bank; the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC); the ONE Campaign and the Institution of Civil Engineers. They calling on international governments, as well as the global construction industry, to commit to incorporating CoST into all public construction projects to create a more transparent and accountable sector, leading to better infrastructure.

Christiaan Poortman, chairman of CoST’s interim board, said that public infrastructure is the cornerstone of socioeconomic development: “Annual losses in global construction through mismanagement, inefficiency and corruption could reach $2.5 trillion by 2020. CoST can help reduce these losses, which pose a threat to the positive social outcomes that good infrastructure can bring. 

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“At CoST’s core is the belief that the processes involved in the construction of infrastructure must be made more transparent - the public must be armed with the information they need to hold decision makers to account.”

CoST was piloted in eight countries, including Ethiopia, Guatemala and the Philippines and involved more than 200 construction projects, covering areas such as roads, water, health, and education. The project team worked with government agencies to gather, verify and disclose information around public construction projects into the public realm.

The pilot found that CoST can help tackle corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency, which are also important when it comes to saving money. Those behind the initiative said that CoST can lead to better public infrastructure, offering potentially huge human benefits on an international scale. It also acts as a catalyst to driving change in public construction, as well as supporting other existing transparency initiatives and government systems. Transparency also benefits the UK construction industry as companies can bid for overseas work in a ‘level playing field’, it said.

Geoff French, president of International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC), said: “Public construction works are meant to be for the benefit of the general population but are often tainted by corruption, misappropriation and mismanagement of public money.

“The CoST initiative is a useful tool in the fight against corruption and mismanagement and we urge leaders and governments across the world to support CoST, helping to ensure that future public construction projects are open, accountable and managed properly.”

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