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Letter to the Editor: Openness the key to eliminating corruption

Dear Editor,

I disagree strongly with the view expressed in a letter in your last issue ["Slovakia no more corrupt than anywhere else," Vol. 5 No. 28, July 19 to August 1] that Slovakia needs only to practice more "discretion and sophistication" in concealing its corrupt practices.

As a civil servant in Great Britain, I was part of a section spending over 60 million pounds a year. Spending was through open tender with an independent lay member from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply involved throughout the process.

Companies failing in the tender process were debriefed in full. Company accounts were inspected and premises visited. We were under no illusions - the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1916 says that if suspicion falls on you, you must prove your innocence or go to jail for five years.

Procurement is a special discipline involving training. I ask myself how the motorway construction programme in Slovakia could have cost the same as it would have in western Europe when the Slovak government had lower labour costs and cheap raw material at hand. Clean, open procurement by specialists might have made the programme less expensive and maybe more complete.

What Slovakia needs like a hole in the head is more "sophistication and discretion" in covering up corruption. Be open and be honest - what is there to hide?

David Barry
Banská Bystrica

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