How to Tackle Coronavirus Corruption

Foreign Policy
8 minute read | August.10.2020

Latin America as a region has long had a problem with public corruption, and the coronavirus pandemic has made things worse. As governments shovel public funds to fight the pandemic and its economic fallout, public officials are swindling millions, including in the graft-prone public health sector. Fraud and corruption allegations have so far led to the arrest of Bolivia's health minister for allegedly purchasing ventilators at inflated prices, charges against several Colombian mayors for mishandling the purchase of hospital equipment, and investigations into officeholders in several Brazilian states, including one inquiry known as "Corona Jato."

A pandemic is a tough time to advance reforms. But action on corruption cannot wait. The cost of delay, measured in the loss of scarce public resources and the human cost of substandard medical equipment, is too high. To address this urgently, more Latin American governments should strongly consider adopting a vital tool used to supervise federal spending in the United States: the inspector general.