By Catherine Sasman
The second conference on the ‘Protection and Optimisation of Public Funds: The Cooperation between National and International Authorities’ concluded in Cape Town, South Africa and resolved to promote the principles and methods of good governance for the control of public funds in the area of external aid and the prevention of illegal activities in this field.
Visiting Namibia and meeting with the Anti-Corruption Commission and other institutions last Friday, Director General of the EuropeAid and the European Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF, Franz-Hermann Bruener, said the meeting was characterised by open-mindedness, adding that he was optimistic that there would be increased and improved control of European Union funds donated to development partners.
OLAF was established in 1990 to protect the financial interests of the European Union, to fight fraud, corruption and any other irregularity, including misconduct within European institutions.
OLAF has a staff complement of 450 with a Euro 50 million annual budget and is a fully independent organisation which supplies member states with the necessary support and technical know-how to help them in their anti-fraud activities, said advisor to Bruener, Paul Roberts.
The objective of the second conference was to enhance the cooperation between the national and international services responsible for the management of public funds to optimise the efficiency of external aid.
Head of the European Commission in Windhoek, Dr Elisabeth Pape, said the organization was important as proof that European development funds, collected from European taxpayers, are used according to best practices and principles.
“European donor money comes from rich countries but not from rich people; we have to show results that the money is spent to improve the livelihood of people,” she said.
Participants to the conference underlined that the promotion of sound management and efficient control of public funds relies on political commitment and sufficient resources.
The conference resolved to exchange best practices to enhance the international discussion on asset recovery and to improve international cooperation between OLAF and different national authorities involved in joint operational activities.
It also resolved to evaluate the possibility of establishing, within its framework, audit systems, norms, standards and technical means of control and databases which allow for a better follow-up of public funds in the area of external aid, a strengthening of prevention and the detection of illegal activities.