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Leaders' Statement

Guro Slettemark

Secretary General

Transparency International Norway

Norway, Europe

Bio

Guro Slettemark is Secretary General in TI Norway. Transparency International is the global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption. Slettemark is a lawyer and she is also a Member of the Council on Ethics for the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global. http://www.transparency.no/

Statement

Transparency in business = Responsible business

Transparency on country-level about revenues, taxes and community contributions are necessary preconditions to enable evaluation of a company’s influence on local economic development, limits the opportunities for corruption, and increases the confidence about the business being corruption-free.

Corruption is a major risk for companies operating internationally. It is detrimental to innovation, entrepreneurship, market mechanisms and economic stability that are all crucial elements in a functioning economy.

Transparency is essential for preventing and detecting corruption.

Companies’ activities affect employees, customers, suppliers, business partners and citizens – and thereby also the business ethics – in the countries where they are present. The economic power of the companies can be a significant source to innovation and economic development, but can – if misused – also contribute to economic stagnation and poverty.

Still, transparency in business is largely a voluntary matter.

TI Norway calls for more transparency in the business sector. Time has come to regulate by law that all companies with international operations report country-by country financial information. Standard communication tool should be a transparent and informative corporate website, available in at least one international language. Minimum standard of reporting should be revenues, capital expenditure, income before tax, income tax and community contributions.

Companies publishing information of importance for combating corruption show that they take this challenge seriously, and indicate that they wish to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

Citizens must have adequate information about the activities of companies operating in their territory. This is especially important in developing countries. The businesses generate revenues locally and so contribute to the public budget through taxation, local salaries and purchase of goods and services. Government contracts may include, for example, tax incentives or tax exemptions. This needs to be transparent to make sure that local authorities can be held accountable to their citizens and to the international community. In the absence of country-by-country reporting, the local public is unaware of how much profit and taxes such operations generate and what, if any, special arrangements their governments may have entered into with foreign companies.

Companies can through good country-by-country reporting contribute to greater transparency. More openness is required to hold local authorities accountable for public revenues, expenses and cash transfers. Such accountability will contribute in combating corruption.

TI Norway is ready to support courageous politicians who are willing to take the lead!

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We are grateful to all the authors and contributing organisations within this Manifesto and to the partner organisations that helped to convene this landmark collection of anti-corruption statements from across a wide range of business and civil society leaders. The partners for the Leaders' Anti-Corruption Manifesto are The B Team, Thomson Reuters, the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, the ONE campaign and the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council

This project is supported by a grant from the Omidyar Network.

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