It would be surprising had the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) really complained (NCE 5 October) that 'quality rms' are not bidding because of the growing risks associated with paying bribes to secure consultancy contracts in developing countries. After all, 'quality rms' should not engage in practices that are not only unethical and unprofessional, but also illegal.
For many years both the World Bank and FIDIC have been widely criticised for being all words and no action when it comes to curbing corruption on aid-funded projects. Recently the World Bank finally broke the mould by launching simultaneous practical initiatives to tackle both the supply side and the demand side of the problem.
No doubt these initiatives could have been implemented in a more thoughtful manner, but at least they have resulted in the issue of corruption being taken seriously.
The tide is at last turning against those companies that believe it is impossible to win work without engaging in shady deals. Any quality firm working in the sector should by now have developed and implemented a robust business integrity management system to help ensure that its staff, subconsultants and agents know the rules and act with integrity.
Back in 2001 FIDIC launched the Blue Book, describing just such a system. Rather than sniping at the World Bank's efforts, FIDIC should take the opportunity to help its members play their part in reforming the market.
Hamish Goldie-Scot (M), Hamish@goldie-scot.freeserve. co. uk