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Democracy vital in corruption fight: IMF

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 21- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has renewed its call to African countries urging them to embrace democracy as a means of placing checks and balances that will rid the continent of corruption.

In an interview with Jocelyn Frank, IMF economist Rabah Arezki argued that African countries needed to reexamine their policies towards the fight against corruption so as to foster regional development.

He said that the lack of proper political structures and commitment in fighting graft in developing countries was to blame for the slow pace of economic growth.

He explained that often times resources meant to spearhead various development projects were misallocated while others were misused.

“Democracy can foster both accountability and transparency and therefore limit corruption. And in the long run it tends to be self correcting in the sense that when electoral officials make a mistake, then they are voted out of office,” he argued.

Arezki added that although developed countries also suffered from corruption, the political systems in place made it impossible for those involved to continue serving in office.

He argued that this was the reason why the development records in such countries remained on course.

He however noted that some developing countries had started witnessing a new awakening from their citizens with increasing demands for better services and transparency in the distribution of resources. He argued that this would help nip corruption in the bud.

Arezki said that things were looking up for developing countries as people aspired to more democracy and accountability.

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“It is certainly a sign that the citizenry is no longer interested in putting up with corruption of public officials and therefore the democratization we have been experiencing over the last 20 years in Africa is something that will ultimately lead to more accountability,” he observed.

Arezki also revealed that there were international initiatives created to help countries fight corruption by ensuring that countries had transparent mechanisms to aid the flow and utilisation of funds.

“These are initiatives that have been set up by a group of non governmental organisations and they look at how revenue is utilised for effective governance and even job creation,” he said.

Kenya has time and time again been urged to fight corruption which has been blamed for hampering growth at the local level by discouraging potential donors and investors.

The scam surrounding free primary education forced key donors including the British government to briefly suspend their aid before deciding to fund the sector through non government sources.

Demand was also made to the Kenyan government to clean up its systems before more aid could be released.

Other corruption scandals that have rocked the Kenyan public was the Sh283 million cemetery scam that saw the resignation of Geophrey Majiwa as the Mayor of Nairobi as well as the maize scam of 2009.

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