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FSM officials boost COVID-19 procurement oversight

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Palikir, Federated States of Micronesia – In an effort to step up their mitigation of potential corruptions risks in public procurement in response to COVID-19, government officials in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) went through a training session today, supported by the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) Project.

Mr. Joses Gallen, Sr., Secretary (Minister), FSM Department of Justice, and other local officials joined UN-PRAC representatives along with international procurement specialist, Mr. Kuban Mambetkulov, to share challenges and current good practices in COVID-19 procurement.

“We face many challenges in keeping COVID-19 out of FSM. While the National Emergency Declaration has fast-tracked many COVID-related emergency procurement transactions, our finance oversight has had to make sure all procurement remains in compliance with full documentation and also that prices remain competitive,” said Mr. Gallen. He also welcomed the availability of more information and training for FSM officials on COVID procurement issues.

UN-PRAC initiated a survey among the 14 Pacific Island Countries to track the ongoing process of distribution of economic support packages and overall management of economic relief/rescue/stimulus measures in response to COVID-19.

“As economic support and recovery packages are implemented in many countries to cope with the pandemic, the risk of corruption is surging, particularly in fast-tracked procurement processes. The UN-PRAC survey found that existing capacities and mechanisms for transparent, open and effective procurement in many PICs were limited and needed further strengthening,” said UN Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji, Anti-Corruption Adviser, Dr. Sonja Stefanovska-Trajanoska.

“The onset of COVID-19 has seen rapid responses and expedited procurement processes but it should not mean that we have a lessening of transparency and accountability. FSM has shown great initiative to benchmark their performance in COVID procurement through this training,” said Ms. Annika Wythes, the Regional Anti-Corruption Adviser for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Other FSM officials who updated the 35 participants on mitigation measures and procurement processes included Mr. Leonito Bacalando, Jr., Assistant Attorney General/DOJ Chief of Law, and Mr. Jesse Mihkel, the Assistant Attorney General. More than half of the participants were women.

The UN-PRAC Project is a joint initiative by UNODC and UNDP supported by the Australian Government and the New Zealand Aid Programme.

For more information, or media interviews please contact:

Emily Moli, Knowledge Communications Analyst - UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. E: P: (679) 3227 504 M: (679) 722 5301.

Akara Umapornsakula, Communications Assistant - United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, E: P: (66) 22 88 1906