In an op-ed for Bloomberg, EJS Center Board Member, former Finance Minister of Nigeria, and nominee for Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala highlighted the importance of open, transparent governance in the fight against COVID-19:
“Every day that the crisis continues, the value of more open government becomes clearer. Getting medical equipment, and eventually vaccines, to those that need them most poses a major governance challenge. Already, many countries are battling price gouging, collapsing supply, and even corruption in the procurement of supplies, including personal protective equipment. Out of desperation, governments have contracted with suppliers who have no track record of delivering the equipment they need. Too often those suppliers have failed.”
She noted that open contracting systems can help make emergency procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) fast and efficient, while at the same time encouraging accountability and citizen engagement. This is of particular importance as healthcare systems everywhere are under great strain as demand continues to grow.
“At a time when many governments are rapidly mobilizing financial resources from their own budgets, international markets and donors, it is vital that funds are not wasted. Working in an open way will build trust with citizens and lenders, and it will ensure money reaches the neediest.“
Finally, she noted that in order to properly protect freedom of speech and civic space, leaders must be open with their citizens about what is being spent in order to build a trusting relationship.
You can read the full op-ed here.