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Economic Activity Development

Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what assessment the Department has made of (a) the extent of extra-legal activity in developing countries and (b) the impact of extra-legal activity on economic development in these countries; and what assistance the Government are offering to increase legal economic activity in developing countries. [129313]

We are not aware of any comprehensive assessment of the scale of extra-legal activity in developing countries. The impact of crime, in particular corruption, transnational organised crime and money laundering, is undoubtedly profound.The Department provides a wide range of support to developing countries to help them address these areas. These include developing strong enforcement action against corruption and money laundering, such as strong and effective anti-corruption agencies and financial intelligence units, and establishing the full range of necessary preventive measures, such as strengthening capacity for public sector budgetary and financial management, procurement, accounting and audit; reforming civil service management, enhancing public oversight through strengthened parliamentary committees, developing measures to reduce judicial corruption and supporting civil society to promote transparency and accountability in public life. Helping countries to develop sustained improvements in the climate for productive domestic and foreign investment and facilitating greater private sector development also forms an important part of the Department's work.We are pleased that negotiations for the United Nations Convention Against Corruption are nearing completion. This instrument will reflect a global consensus on the importance of tackling corruption and improving international co-operation, including the return of corruptly-acquired assets to the country of origin. The UK has played an active role in these negotiations.