Categorized | National News

Gov’t Focus on Corruption Menace

Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez told a committee of the Organization of American States (OAS) yesterday that The Bahamas is addressing issues of corruption which is a menace to the country.

“Corruption is a menace for both developed and developing countries alike. It is particularly relevant for small island developing states where a lack of transparency can sometimes be systemic,” Minister Gomez said.

Minister Gomez comments came as he addressed members of the full Committee of Experts of The Follow-up Mechanism for the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) during a session held at the OAS to review and approve a report prepared by a sub-group of the committee in the aftermath of its on-site visit to The Bahamas in September, 2014.

He explained that The Bahamas is armed with a charge for national development and the government is reviewing the Freedom of Information Bill to ensure that transparency is inculcated in the society and to allow citizens greater access to government information, which will provide them with the tools needed to keep public administration transparent and accountable.

Minister Gomez pointed out that as a result of The Bahamas’ obligations under both the UNCAC and MESICIC Conventions, Cabinet has mandated the establishment of an anti-corruption task force.

“The international perception of the levels of corruption in The Bahamas is found in the most recent global Corruption Perception Index (CPI), published annually by Transparency International. In its 2013 Corruption Perception Index, The Bahamas is ranked 22nd out of 177 countries that were evaluated obtaining a score of 71/100. To put this number into perspective, this score places The Bahamas just two points behind the United States of America and second to only Barbados in the Caribbean region,” Minister Gomez noted.

He added that notwithstanding the relatively good marks The Bahamas has garnered in the CPI, the government readily confess that there is still a great deal of work to be done and much ground to cover.

“The Bahamas does not have a comprehensive anti-corruption framework with a single watchdog agency or oversight body (i.e. an Integrity Commission or an Anti-Corruption Commission),” Minister Gomez said. “Instead, corruption has been addressed through a range of measures, including strong democratic traditions, good governance policies, legislative initiatives, vibrant political and civil institutions, a free and vigorous investigative media (including internet media) most of which is under private ownership and control, and a bevy of anti-corruption initiatives nationwide.”

Declaring that the government is currently working on an Anti-corruption Action Plan, which will build on existing initiatives, he assured that the government is aware that the “attainment of values such as morality, trust and ethics in government involves the integrated effort of the entire society and its constituent elements and institutions – legislative, executive, political, judicial, religious, and civil – all engaging with each other to ensure transparency, accountability, and good governance.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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