The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rip the veil off that largesse

New Delhi, Sept. 21: The festive season is round the corner, and while as usual India Inc is eagerness personified in doling out the perfect corporate gifts to business associates, business principles are being formed on what can be presented and what can be accepted.

“Gifts, hospitality and expenses — all of them should have clear guidelines for the purposes of giving and receiving, lest they work as the perfect camouflage for corporate bribes.” This is the key component of a set of business principles framed by the Calcutta-based Transparency International, London and Centre for Social Markets.

Grease money, slush funds, facilitation payment — call them what you may, the rot that is eating away at the ethical side of corporate life is being sought to be stamped out by the NGOs with the same set of standards that keep enterprises going — business principles.

Business principles can be used by companies of all sizes, and is focused on bribery, not wider forms of corruption.

Focusing on specific forms of bribery, the principles lay it down that political contributions should clearly be out where there are possibilities of gaining contracts.

It specifies that “facilitation payments” are nothing but bribes and firms should identify them and work towards eliminating them. Further, it says philanthrophic contributions should be fully disclosed so that even well-cloaked attempts at bribery are nipped in the bud.

Transparency international says companies should put anti-bribery policies and processes high on their agenda. It is also important to implement business principles or benchmark existing programmes.

Laying clear-cut guidelines for business relationships, it says fees for agents should be restricted to actual services. For contractors and suppliers, there should be due diligence exercises, competitive procurement and a blanket ban on kickbacks.

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