The session was supported by the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) Project and the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA).
The Pacific Anti-Corruption Journalists Network (PACJN) hosted the 28 April webinar for UN-PRAC and PINA through the Media Association of Tonga (MAT), with a presentation by UN-PRAC international procurement specialist, Kuban Mambetkulov, on current good practices in COVID-19 procurement.
“While the onset of COVID-19 has seen rapid responses and expedited procurement processes, it should not mean that we have a lessening of transparency and accountability. This webinar, including inputs from our media colleagues in Tonga and throughout the Pacific, have assisted local journalists to seek, discover and publish the full story behind COVID procurement,” said Annika Wythes, the Regional Anti-Corruption Adviser for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
“While countries around the globe have implemented a multitude of different economic support measures to minimise the effects of the pandemic and to protect vulnerable groups, Mambetkulov found that existing mechanisms for COVID-19 procurement in many PICs were limited and needed to be further expanded, particularly in terms of ensuring openness and transparency in the selection of suppliers,” said UN Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji, Anti-Corruption Adviser, Sonja Stefanovska-Trajanoska.
PACJN coordinator, Samisoni Pareti, welcomed the availability of more information and training for Pacific journalists on COVID procurement issues.
“Our journalists have worked hard to get governments to host more regular media conferences during the onset of COVID so not only misinformation, but real procurement problems can be addressed quickly,” said Pareti.
The UN-PRAC report “Economic Support Measures and Public Procurement in Response to COVID-19 in the Pacific Island Countries: An overview and analysis of fraud and corruption risks” is due to be published in June 2021.
The UN-PRAC Project is a joint initiative by UNODC and UNDP supported by the Australian Government and the New Zealand Aid Programme