12 December 2019
Posteado en : Reportage
9 December is International Anti-Corruption Day and ARAP Ghana, a project managed by FIIAPP, is accompanying Ghanaian institutions in their fight against this crime
INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY
The United Nations has established 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day. The purpose of this international day is for the media and the organisations involved to contribute to raising awareness of this problem among the public at large.
By corruption we mean “the abuse of power, of functions or means to obtain an economic or other benefit.” If we refer to the etymological origin of the Latin “corruptio”, we find that the original meaning of the term is “action and effect of breaking into pieces.” Corruption is a scourge which, as stated in the United Nations Convention against Corruption, approved on 31 October 2003, threatens the stability and security of societies and undermines justice. As its Latin root indicates, it “breaks apart” both the institutions and the ethical and democratic values of the societies that suffer from it.
In addition, it is a transnational phenomenon in which organised crime usually takes part, resulting in other types of crime such as trafficking in human beings and money laundering.
To combat it, it is essential to promote international cooperation and technical assistance and, for this international cooperation agents such as FIIAPP play a key role.
CORRUPTION IN GHANA
Corruption continues to be a problem that has permeated all sectors of Ghana’s society and economy. With its devastating effects, it impedes sustainable development and is a threat to human rights. It could be said that corruption has been identified as one of the main causes of poverty, deprivation and underdevelopment. In the particular case of Ghana, the prevalence of corruption has resulted in poor provision of services and a lack of access to other basic services such as health and education. Corruption is also a threat to Ghana’s democratic ideals, in particular the rule of law, justice and equality before the law.
According to the 2018 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, Ghana ranks 78th out of 180 countries.
THE ARAP-GHANA PROJECT
The Accountability, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme (ARAP), funded by the European Union and implemented by FIIAPP, has been supporting the efforts of the Ghanaian government to reduce corruption for three years.
The aim of the project is to promote good governance and support national reform, in order to improve accountability and strengthen anti-corruption initiatives throughout the country. To this end, it works together with the relevant government institutions and other national strategic partners while at the same time improving accountability and respect for existing legal structures.
In addition, it acts as a support programme for the government in implementing the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP), Ghana’s national anti-corruption strategy ratified by Parliament in 2014, which aims to create a democratic and sustainable Ghanaian society based on good governance and endowed with a high degree of ethics and integrity.
ANTI-CORRUPTION AND TRANSPARENCY WEEK
In light of this problem, from 2 to 9 December Accra, the country’s capital, held the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Week (ACT) in which the Government, the public and private sectors, academia, the media, civil society and the general public all took part. The week was organised by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) supported by the ARAP programme.
The purpose of ACT Week was to create a platform for assessing the impact of the NACAP in the first five years of its implementation and strengthening the commitment of the implementing partners in the remaining five years of the NACAP; to raise awareness among Ghanaians of the perverse effects of corrupt practices; to advocate for sustained collaboration and inter-institutional partnership in the fight against corruption as well as for the need to provide adequate resources to anti-corruption agencies; and to promote the use of international cooperation instruments in the fight against corruption.
The week included a large number of activities, both nationally and regionally. These included the international forum on money laundering and asset recovery, international cooperation in legal and other areas; the forum on integrity for youth; the NACAP high-level conference; the presentation of integrity awards; and the observance of international anti-corruption and human rights days.
The work of ARAP will continue not only during the week but every day until the end of the programme in December 2020, because the fight is not just for one week, but for every day of the year.
Text created with the collaboration of Sandra Quiroz, communication specialist of ARAP Ghana
07 November 2019
"You see things with a different perspective, what cooperation looks like in the field, and it all adds up - you learn and expand your way of seeing things"
Pilar Fernández, coordinator of the ICRIME project, tells us about her experience as a FIIAPP expatriate, her adaptation to El Salvador and her daily routine in the country.
How long have you been in El Salvador? What has your adaptation to this country been like?
I landed in San Salvador on June 4, so I have spent more than five months coordinating the ICRIME project, which is funded by the European Union, AECID and the Central American Integration System (SICA). In the project, managed by the FIIAPP, the main objective is the reinforcement of investigation units, forensic institutes, and criminal investigation networks and procedures in the SICA.
As for the adaptation, it has not been very difficult since previously I had lived for a few periods of 3-4 months in San Salvador, between 2013 and 2017. Therefore, I already knew the city, how to move around the country, who to call to take a taxi, where to go shopping, what to visit, etc. In addition, friends here, both Salvadorans and Spaniards, always affectionately make you a new “welcome plan“.
What has been the most difficult aspect to adapt to, and the easiest?
Although I have lived in San Salvador in previous years, it is still difficult to get used to the great storms and the tremors, as they call earthquakes here, since we are in the ‘Valley of the Hammocks’ for good reason and there are continuous ‘tremors’.
From another side, due to security issues, going for walks is tricky, and getting around the city on foot, especially after dark. Not having that freedom of movement is hard to get used to, since in Madrid I walked a lot.
The easiest things for me were the logistical issues of finding an apartment to live in for almost three and a half years. Thanks to my friend Xiomara, before arriving in San Salvador, I already had photographs of different apartments to choose from, because she took the time to visit them. In three days, I saw all the apartments and signed the rental agreement.
Do you have any special experiences or anecdotes about your arrival/adaptation to the country?
Well, certainly the arrival in San Salvador was somewhat rough, since we left Madrid airport three hours late. This was because the plane burst a tyre before entering the taxiway. So, we returned to the starting point at the airport, fire fighters came and in the end we had to change planes. But the aircraft’s alarm systems worked…
Also, as the flight goes via Guatemala, when we went to land at La Aurora airport in Guatemala City, they told us that we had to keep circling in the airspace until a big storm passed… so another 40 minutes late… So, all-in-all a 24-hour trip.
So, you had lived in El Salvador before?
Yes, I had the experience of living in the ‘Tom Thumb of Central America’. I was managing two projects on issues of Central American regional integration and democratic security with SICA. Since the headquarters of the General Secretariat are in San Salvador, I moved here for different periods over five years.
What is your work like, your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?
We are working at the headquarters of the Directorate of Democratic Security (DSD) of the General Secretariat of SICA. So the daily tasks in the office means being in contact with the DSD team that carries out the overall coordination of the project. In addition, being in the same building facilitates communication and work with the people who make up the Spain SICA Fund, an instrument of Spanish Cooperation that also implements other results from the project.
The team is now fully formed with two main specialists, the project manager, the three local people from El Salvador and myself as project coordinator. So coordination between the teams, with the Delegation of the European Union in Central America and with the beneficiary institutions, is vital to achieving the project results.
After leaving the office there is always a short time to share with friends, attend an event at the Cultural Centre of Spain in El Salvador, do some sport or rest. So the routine is a bit similiar to the one I had in Spain.
What is your relationship like with the FIIAPP team in Madrid? And with your colleagues in El Salvador?
The relationship with the FIIAPP team in Madrid, with Esther Utrilla, Sonsoles de Toledo and Cristina de Matías, is close and daily. In fact, with Esther, due to the seven-hour difference between Spain and El Salvador, we leave one another WhatsApp messages to keep ourselves up to date, in addition to emails. I am also very grateful for the support of my colleagues in the Strategy and Communication area, Iosu Iribarren and Laura Ruiz. As well as Sara Ruiz from HR.
With respect to my colleagues in El Salvador, we have integrated quite well, we are gradually getting to know each other. Both Mariano Simancas, project manager and Lola Moreno, main expert and myself, are new to the FIIAPP, so we are learning together about the application of the internal procedures, and how to approach the implementation of the project. And of course, I have a great opportunity to learn about forensic topics and criminal investigation with them, since they have a vast and wide experience. So I’m very happy, because professional enrichment is guaranteed!
How would you rate your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate?
I value it positively. It’s a test, a calculated challenge. Having to leave your country, your city, family, your friends, that comfort zone – it’s not easy. But it means an evolution in professional and personal development.
You live outside Spain, and you also make a small family almost 8,700 kilometres from Madrid. You see the things that happen in our country, in El Salvador and in the Central American region from a different perspective, and you experience cooperation in the field, and this all adds up – you learn and expand your way of seeing things.
10 October 2019
"FIIAPP is a well-recognised Foundation and that gives one a very easily attained feeling of belonging"
Ernesto Prieto, coordinator of the project ‘Support for the forces of European Union law in the fight against drugs and organized crime in Peru’, funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP, tells us what his adaptation to the country and its daily routine has been like in the first months of the life of this project.
How long have you been in Peru? How have you adapted to this country?
I arrived in Lima on May 16, so I have only been here for a little more than 2 months. The truth is that it has not been difficult because I had already started here as a ‘Young Aid Worker’ and it has been a bit like coming home. On the other hand, I have seen many changes since the last time I was there, a more congested city, with a lot of traffic and a great deal of businesses, with a lot of coming and going and more momentum.
What has been the most difficult aspect to adapt to, and the easiest?
What I found most difficult was the weather, because I came directly from my previous destination, in the Dominican Republic and Cuba, and it meant landing in the southern winter, always cloudy and cold, but with time one adapts to anything What I found easiest, was being back in a place which was familiar to me, even finding friends that I had left behind years ago, it is nice reuniting with people you have not seen for a long time.
Is this your first experience outside of Spain? If not, is this one proving to be very different to your previous missions?
I have been away from Spain for a long time, I have worked in several countries, besides having already been in Peru, it isn’t such a different thing for me. Perhaps the biggest difference is that in my previous job in Peru, I was linked to a project in the Colca Valley, a province of Arequipa, a place high up in the mountains, and now in Lima things are very different, like food, the weather and the services one has access to.
What is your work like, your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?
The work is not very different from a Spanish routine, or at least I think so, I have not worked there for a long time. But in the end, it is a management job that maybe similar to others that can be carried out in Spain. One thing that’s certainly true is that it begins very early so as to get around the problems of the 7-hour difference with Spain, with me trying to answer emails and calls to sort out issues as soon as possible. There is a lot of contact with partners and many meetings that help generate the necessary trust with the different stakeholders, it is a job that entails a lot of negotiation, of understanding in order, progressively, to be able to consolidate the processes.
What is your relationship like with the FIIAPP team in Madrid? And with your colleagues in Peru?
From the beginning, it has been extraordinary both with the team in Madrid and with colleagues in Peru. They are very professional people, who really do know what they are doing, they are very experienced. Likewise, my colleagues in Peru are very well trained and skilled, they know what they want from the project and are clear that the idea is to create stronger institutional structures, so it is very easy to work like this.
How would you assess your experience of working as an FIIAPP expatriate?
Working with FIIAPP is a new experience for me. At the beginning, to a great extent, I had to adjust to new procedures, ways of doing things, but I was always supported in this, which enabled me to integrate quickly. On the other hand, I have always had the opportunity to be linked to government cooperation, developing institutional strengthening programmes that enabled the implementation or development of different public policies. However, I had never had the opportunity to work in a European context, being able to share the work with officials from different nationalities and sectors is proving to be very enriching professionally and personally, with continuous learning. That is of great value to me, working as an FIIAPP expatriate. In addition, it is a well-recognised Foundation and that gives one a very easily attained feeling of belonging.
Do you have any experiences or anecdotes about your arrival in the country?
Well, at the beginning, I mentioned coming from a Caribbean climate where summer began with very high temperatures, to land in a place with permanent and cold cloud cover, because suddenly, I did not have the right clothes to go outside, so imagine how cold I was until I could quickly buy something warm to put on.
03 October 2019
We interview Jesús Gastón, general director of the State Tax Administration Agency (AEAT) of Spain, who tells us about the importance of international cooperation in relation to tax agencies, and the benefits for citizens
How important is the Assembly of the Inter-American Centre of Tax Administrations (CIAT) for the Spanish administration?
Basically, the objective is to analyse all the factors related to human resources since, for tax administrations, their people are the main value they have. Often, we talk about the importance of information in managing tax systems, but our staff is the best thing we have. We have to take care of them, we have to understand how to process the best professionals, get enough of them, and use their work and that of other organizations. In short, get them to help us move forward in an increasingly changing world.
What contribution has the State Tax Administration Agency of Spain made to the CIAT Assembly?
We have extensive experience in participating in international forums, we know the European and American experience, and we try to learn from others while also explaining the steps we are taking to achieve an ever more professional staff, better trained and more adapted to the challenges of tax administration, and what we do is share our experience with others.
In the middle of the era of technology, where it is practically on a pedestal, it is striking that the reflection is on the human factor. How do the two pillars come into play in daily work?
Technology helps because it allows certain conflictive workers to be able to work in a much simpler way, but it also constitutes a very important challenge because the staff has to adapt to the technological changes, since otherwise we would be unable to take advantage of those changes. It is therefore critical to analyse the two factors together.
How important is international cooperation in tax matters, taxation, tax collection, collaboration between countries…?
It is decisive these days because the world is increasingly open and global. We need to coordinate our regulations to avoid the occurrence of tax evasion, aggressive tax fragmentation worldwide, and the existence of tax havens. And then the tax administrations have to share information, exchange it because companies, especially the largest, operate globally, and for them there is no reference country, rather they have to deal with many. Then we find that companies are global, but tax systems and tax administrations are local or national. The only way to deal with this problem is to act in an increasingly coordinated manner and exchange that information.
Cuba and its tax organization, with the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT), is making a great effort in moving forward on this matter. There is an exchange programme of experts from the EU and Cuba in which Spain is actively participating. How does it look to you right now?
We have always collaborated very closely with Cuba, including, of course, in taxes. We have now been collaborating with the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT) for several years to help them in this process of change that all we tax administrations must now face by training our staff and incorporating new technologies. We have been helping them not only with human resources, but also with collection, taxpayer assistance, improving legal safeguards, and with procedure, and, indeed, we will continue to collaborate along all the lines that are considered a priority by the Cuban administration so that they achieve a goal as important as providing better service to citizens while also controlling the economic situation of the tax system .
In that sense, we always talk about social responsibility, the impact of citizens on tax policies. What are the benefits that citizens should take into account in their tax system?
The main goal of tax systems is to provide resources to public administrations, since these resources are essential to providing services to citizens. Education, health and infrastructure depend largely on the payment of taxes, and what needs to be done is to help the taxpayer who wants to fulfil their tax obligations, and one way to help them is not only by providing the service, but also obligating those who try to avoid taxes to pay them.
We talked about the impact of the benefits that the citizen obtains from having a tax system.
The main aim of tax systems is to provide revenue to public administrations so that they can provide services to citizens, such as health, education and infrastructure, and what tax administrations have to do is help taxpayers who want to comply so that it is as easy as possible to fulfil that obligation. An indirect way to help them is also by obligating those who do not want to pay the taxes they owe to do so as a result of the tax administration’s monitoring actions all for the benefit of all citizens through better services.
30 May 2019
We interviewed Jérémie Pellet, general director of cooperation agency Expertise France, FIIAPP's partner in numerous projects and a member of the Practitioners' Network
What is Expertise France? What is its job?
Expertise France is the French public international cooperation agency. It was created in 2015 by merging several operators together. It works in four major fields; in the field of democratic governance: economic and financial; in the field of peace, security and stability; in the field of human development: education, health, social protection; and in the field of sustainable development: climate, agriculture and energy.
Why is the joint work of institutions like the FIIAPP and EF so important?
Expertise France and the FIIAPP are institutions that share the same objective: to support public policies and support the development of the countries of the south with a good governance plan. So, we already work together on many projects. Nowadays, Expertise France and the FIIAPP share a dozen projects. We strive to be an allied actor in Europe. So, we seek to collaborate with agencies like us, capable of mobilising expertise in different countries, particularly public expertise, our main reason for being, both of the FIIAPP, in Spain and Expertise France, in France.
What are the advantages and drawbacks of working together?
To start with, the advantages of working together are that our approach is not only national but also European, with different ways of working and, obviously, this is extremely advantageous, since we require European funding, and theEuropean Commission is very interested in international development agencies working together.
The drawbacks are, essentially, coordination difficulties because everyone has their way of working and procedures. One thing we can certainly do to improve is to work on this issue to make coordination more fluid and effective.
How do you think France contributes to these projects? And Spain?
Both France and Spain have numerous cooperation projects, which account for an important part of their international activity and their diplomatic activity in matters of international cooperation. They have worldwide geographies whose priorities are not necessarily the same due to historical differences. Spanish international cooperation focuses mainly on Latin American policies, whereas French international cooperation is more involved in helping the poorest African countries mainly in West Africa. However, this does not alter the fact that we now face global climate, security and development issues that need support in different parts of the world. Ultimately, we complement each other because we each contribute what we know best as well as our cooperation expertise.
How valuable is the European cooperation network, the Practitioners’ Network, to European cooperation?
Practitioners’ Network is a body that brings together European Union state agencies involved in delegated and cooperation fund management. It is now the recognised interlocutor for the European Commission. The proof is that we and the Commission have entered into a very important association agreement between the Commission and each Member State agency, to make these agencies the primary delegated management agents for the European funds. It is now an acknowledged body with real technical competence, which is obviously valuable for the agencies as well as for the European Commission, which has a partner to which it can address such issues.
I believe that our main value and the work we have already undertaken and that which still needs to be accomplished is to further strengthen coordination between the agencies in the Practitioners’ Network. Because we will be effective, among ourselves, and will be capable of showing the European Commission that working with Member States’ agencies is an added value.
In my opinion, the European Commission expects us to be able to show that we are really effective, which is why I believe that the network of the Practitioners’ Network should continue to develop good practices, standardising agencies and establishing new procedures.
09 May 2019
Posteado en : Opinion
On the occasion of Europe Day, the head of the FIIAPP office in Brussels, Silvia Prada gave a presentation on the work carried out by the Foundation in its role in European cooperation and on what FIIAPP is doing in the European capital
The Foundation has had representation in Brussels for almost a decade. Recently, it opened its new headquarters in the Embassy of Spain in the Kingdom of Belgium.
The FIIAPP delegations represent the Foundation in its field of operation, framed within both the external action of Spain and the European Union. FIIAPP is a major player in European cooperation due to its expertise and experience: knowledge generated by its technical cooperation activities and the accompanying public policy reform processes nurture the external action of the European Union.
One of the main objectives of the office in Brussels is to contribute to improving the effectiveness and quality of the work of the Foundation, participating and contributing to the promotion of a structured dialogue with the agents for European cooperation. And in short, also to contribute to the strategic positioning of FIIAPP as an contributor to Spanish and European cooperation and an implementer of the 2030 Agenda.
This positioning is becoming more important, if that is possible, in the current European context. In response to the 2030 Agenda and the new European Consensus on Development, the new development policy of the EU is being drawn up in Brussels; the negotiation of the new budget for the period 2021-2027 is being finalised; and recently the communication from the European Commission to the Parliament and the Council, “The EU, joining forces for a common future” was published, which will mark relations with the region during the next decade. Above all, a context marked by the new political-institutional framework that will come about after the European elections of 26M.
What does the work in Brussels consist of?
The FIIAPP office in Brussels is the visible face of the Foundation, its eyes, ears and voice vis-à-vis the agents of European cooperation.
One of the keys to the work is the ability to anticipate. To identify the key information and understand how the main decisions related to the EU’s cooperation policy can affect FIIAPP; and how it can be influenced from an operational level. At the same time, to transfer to those involved in European cooperation the added value of the Foundation as an entity of the Spanish cooperation system, specialised in the promotion and management of the participation of public administrations in technical cooperation programmes; in particular, in accompanying public policy reform processes and in generating dialogues between public administrations of partner countries.
All this with a view to looking for and creating alliances, working in a network. That is, by participating in the activities of the Practitioners’ Network, a platform of European development agencies to exchange knowledge and practical solutions that contribute to improving joint work; FIIAPP has been a member of the Network since 2014 and DG DEVCO of the European Commission is present as an observer.
Also, participating in networking spaces, such as those provided by European Development Days and/or the various events organised in Brussels on topics or regions of interest to the Foundation.
The work on dialogue in Brussels is crucial and is structured around multiple aspects: such as Spanish cooperation, coordination with the representations of the Spanish public administrations in Brussels, mainly with the Permanent Representation of Spain before the EU; and in particular, regarding complementarity and harmony with AECID; in addition to the bilateral Embassy. In addition, with the EU institutions (essentially the European Commission, the European External Action Service and the European Parliament); the development agencies of the Member States with which FIIAPP is most involved and which are represented in Brussels (Expertise France and GIZ); without forgetting the important international organisations that are present in the capital of Europe.
What relationship is there with the European institutions?
The bulk of the coordination with the European institutions and especially with the Commission, which is carried out from the FIIAPP representation in Brussels, consists of being in permanent contact with the main partners of the Foundation: the services of the General Directorate of International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO) and the General Directorate of Neighbourhood and Enlargement (DG NEAR). And also with some of the sectoral General Directorates, those most important to the programmes and projects in which FIIAPP works.
The dialogue with the European institutions is articulated with a cross-cutting approach to the priority themes and regions; and with a view both to the present and future. The tasks range from the general monitoring of EU activities (financial framework, new external action instruments, delegated cooperation), to the identification of new opportunities for collaboration, to contributing to increasing coherence in negotiations regarding new projects; and the promotion of the construction of greater synergies of the Foundation’s activities, providing support to sectoral areas and FIIAPP programmes, mainly in support of ongoing programmes that DEVCO manages centrally from Brussels.
As part of this work on dialogue with the European institutions, coordination with the European Parliament and the European External Action Service, mainly through Renowned National Experts should also be highlighted.