New Delhi: The role of audit institutions, integrity and effectiveness of public bodies and the impact of graft on women are among the topics on the agenda of the second G20 Anti-corruption Working Group meeting scheduled to begin in Rishikesh on Thursday, Union Minister Jitendra Singh has said.
He said international cooperation for strengthening the fight against corruption, including recovery of stolen assets, effectiveness of existing mutual legal assistance frameworks and faster extradition of fugitive economic offenders will also be discussed during the meeting.
Singh, the Minister of State for Personnel, Wednesday said the impact of corruption on women will be highlighted during the meeting "since they are most vulnerable to it".
"The government has been working towards a policy of zero tolerance towards corruption and terrorism. We have continuously sought to address both these priorities. Cooperation from G20 nations in ensuring the return of economic offenders and ways to recover stolen money from them will be discussed," he told reporters during a briefing ahead of a three-day second G20 anti-corruption working group (ACWG) meeting beginning from May 25 in Rishikesh (Uttarakhand).
Singh said the proceeds of corruption taken away from the country can supplement terror funding as well.
"India has always been open to cooperate. It will be an occasion for us to reiterate our resolve against economic offenders," he said.
Singh said India will seek deepening of G20 commitment towards countering corruption globally.
He said India has taken a very decisive position to prevent economic offenders from fleeing out of the country and taking refuge in other friendly countries with liberal laws.
When asked about likely discussion on extradition of fugitive economic offenders diamond merchant Nirav Modi and businessman Vijay Mallya during the meet, the minister said the "discussion is broad based and not on individuals".
He said India's present priorities take forward the past agreements to enhance international cooperation for strengthening the fight against corruption and return of corruption offenders and the stolen assets to their countries of origin.
"This is the concern of all the G20 countries and therefore, we expect substantial agreement on proposals of India," Singh added.
He said India is organising a unique event on exploring "G20's perspective on synergising gender sensitivity with anti-corruption strategies" on Thursday on the sidelines of the second G20 ACWG meeting.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi will deliver the keynote address highlighting the importance of the gender aspect of corruption, Singh said.
"This event will have participation of high-level keynote speakers and governmental experts of G20 countries and international organisations. Indian voices of grassroots shall also be represented during the event. India would highlight its own experiences where anti-corruption efforts have helped in empowerment of women," he added.
Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, S Radha Chauhan said India has for the first time proposed discussion on impact of corruption on women during the G20 ACWG meeting.
"We have proposed discussion on gender and corruption. Let's see how it goes. We intend to make it a part of the main agenda of G20 ACWG," Chauhan, who was also present during the briefing, said.
Minister Singh said the Indian presidency will focus on five broad themes in G20 anti-corruption working group -- international cooperation for strengthening fight against corruption, integrity and effectiveness of public bodies and authorities responsible for preventing and combating corruption, role of audit institutions in anti-corruption, leveraging information and communications technology for combating corruption in the public sector and 'gender and corruption'.
"G20 countries affirmed to continue practical cooperation to fight corruption and deny safe haven to persons sought for corruption and their proceeds of corruption," a statement issued by the Personnel Ministry said.
India will build upon the work done by the previous presidency and collate a compendium of good practices of G20 countries on the role of audit institutions and audit practices in preventing and combating corruption, an official said.
On the theme of integrity and effectiveness of public bodies and authorities responsible for preventing and combating corruption, G20 ACWG will strive to attain the highest level of commitment to achieve an effective institutional framework to fight corruption, he said.
"This will help in developing transparent regulatory frameworks, an independent process of decision-making, effective bureaucratic structures, and effective internal control mechanisms in bodies and authorities which are responsible for preventing and combating corruption," the official said, mentioning the agenda of the second ACWG meeting.
The first meeting of ACWG was held from May 1-3, this year in Gurugram (Haryana).
"Moreover, India is preparing an accountability report for 2023 with a unique focus on analysis of efficiency of mutual legal assistance (MLA) procedures for corruption and other criminal offences," the statement said.
The minister hoped that the G20 ACWG meeting would serve as a platform for India to engage with other countries, exchange knowledge, shape policies, and foster international cooperation, all of which can contribute to strengthening India's anti-corruption framework.
The Group of Twenty (G20) is an inter-governmental forum comprising 19 countries – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkiye, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the European Union.