Public discussion held on business ethics

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Non-transparent public tenders, dubious business partners, corruption...these are only some of the problems that many companies, small firms and entrepreneurs are faced with when they do business in the Czech Republic. A recent survey by Transparency International suggested that the Czech Republic was among countries where corruption is deeply rooted. By Dita Aseidu.

The survey found that it is mainly civil servants, policemen, health care and judiciary employees who take bribes. One quarter of the Czech population regard corruption as an inseparable part of their lives and behaviour. No wonder then that this year the Czech Republic finished 47th in Transparency International's table of corruption.

Radio Prague's Dita Asiedu spoke with Zdenek Pilz and Martin Bednar, members of the board of the Association for Information Society, an organization that is planning to start a nation-wide discussion on business ethics in the Czech Republic. The first event of the campaign was a discussion held last Tuesday attended by politicians and representatives of large Czech companies. According to Mr. Bednar a number of recent tenders in the Czech Republic were not fully transparent:

"The way how decisions were made was surprising to everybody, and here we have a very simple suggestion: we'd like to see the environment moving from less transparent to more transparent, we believe that using current information technologies it is possible to set up an environment where everybody, each tax payer and competitor, could see how the decision process is progressing, what kind of criteria are being applied and having understood that, the decisions would be more acceptable or more understandable."

But is there a way how to make this idea reality? Is it possible to change the current practices and make the awarding of public contracts more transparent?

"I think that IT companies can lend their tools - software, hardware, systems - to make a competition more transparent - that is one thing. The second thing is that we can bring and share our experience from abroad, from other countries - how to do this business."

But is your experience welcome at all?

"I think that inside all Western companies there is an applied system how to break this, say - dirty behaviour. We must not behave in this way."

"But the real way how to change the situation is to change the law. That's why we believe that our position, our opinion and the information we are spreading around must address politicians and those who are involved in the preparation of new changes in legislation, because what is being done now is fully covered by the current law, so what we are saying is that we are not satisfied with the current legal status and this is what we would like to change."