EDITORIAL: We must reduce corrupt practices
PROMINENT BUSINESSMAN Ralph “Bizzy” Williams spoke last week to the importance of credibility, integrity and honesty.
While he highlighted these three values as fundamental to policemen in the execution of their duties, they also apply to all Barbadians. Despite the consistently high ranking from Transparency International, the global anti-corruption watchdog, this country needs to work harder to wipe out all forms of graft, real or imagined.
The Auditor General’s Report this year, as has been the case over many years under both Democratic Labour Party and Barbados Labour Party administrations, has highlighted disconcerting practices in the public sector that also extend to the private sector. This is why we should take heed of Mr Williams’ logical conclusion that there could not be corruption without “corrupters”.
The business magnate is on the correct path, but may find that it is a lonely road he is travelling, given the corporate secrecy at a time when there is a need for greater transparency. It is going to take more than a one-man or even one-agency effort to ensure this country is not consumed by corruption.
It will require strong national institutions and the full support of the private sector and civil society working towards the same goal. In a society driven by money and which equates success with the acquisition of material things, there is always a temptation to take a piece of change.
But the good name and reputation of Barbados and its people can be maintained as long as there is commitment to eradicating corruption and improving transparency. In order to fight this scourge, the country must have very strong national institutions which work.
The many instances of the lack of cooperation with the office of the Auditor General or the total indifference towards the office of the Ombudsman highlight serious hurdles which must be overcome if we are to have greater levels of accountability.
We know this country would be better served if there was the establishment of the office of contractor general seeing after all aspects of public procurement, so that contracts for goods and services are administered in a fair and transparent manner.
Equally important should be the setting up of an integrity commission to promote probity in public life. A serious fraud and corruption office, modelled along the lines of Britain’s, is also a necessity.
The instituting of such measures may also help to curtail those who can afford to pay bribes.
These changes require political will supported by strong legislative and administrative measures. The private sector and civil society must also be on board in these efforts if Barbados is to have an impeccable record as a clean jurisdiction.