The Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Latin America & Caribbean survey released today by Transparency International, reveals that despite attempts to combat corruption around the world, more than half of all people in 18 Latin American and Caribbean countries think corruption is getting worse in their country and that governments are not doing enough to tackle corruption. In the 18 countries surveyed, citizens experience with bribery is concerning. More than one in five individuals who access public services, have to pay a bribe and one in five persons experiences sexual extortion – or sextortion – when accessing a government service, like health care or education, or knows someone who has.
The GCB is the largest, most detailed survey of citizens’ views on corruption and their experiences of bribery in Caribbean and Latin American. Between January and March 2019, the GCB surveyed more than 17,000 citizens in 18 countries across the region. The surveys were conducted for Transparency International (TI) by Ipsos in 13 Latin American countries, Market Research Insights in 4 Caribbean countries and by Public Domain Limited in the Bahamas.
The survey results highlight that corruption flourishes around elections. One in four persons were offered a bribe in exchange for votes at national, regional or local elections in the past five years. Additionally, corruption is a major concern for citizens; as 85 per cent of those surveyed believe government corruption is “a big problem”.
According to Transparency International’s Chair, Delia Ferreira Rubio – ‘Too often, presidents, parliamentarians and other political leaders act in their own self-interest, at the expense of the citizens they serve. In a region where anti-corruption efforts are building momentum despite recent setbacks, citizens continue to demand more and better from their governments.’
Across the Latin American and Caribbean region, the surveys indicate high bribery rates for institutional services. Despite these challenges, an overwhelming majority of people remain hopeful. Noteworthy, 77% of believe ordinary citizens can make a difference in the fight against corruption.
Transparency International recommends political leaders take the following actions:
· Strengthen integrity of elections and enforce sanctions against vote-buying, with transparent campaign finance and support for fact-based journalism.
· Empower individuals, civil society and media to report corruption, including with comprehensive legislation to protect whistle-blowers.
· Implement the Lima Commitment, including publicly reporting on progress since the VIII Summit of the Americas.
A great amount of work is still required
As the local Chapter of Transparency International, Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) remains dedicated to seeking ways to reduce, if not eliminate corruption from Trinidad and Tobago. Given the results of the surveys, TTTI advocates for effective implementation of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act 2015, proclamation and enforcement of Campaign Finance Legislation ahead of the upcoming 2020 General Elections and implementation of legislation to protect whistle-blowers.
TTTI was pleased to hear of the work and progress made by the Office of the Procurement Regulator (OPR) in implementing the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act 2015 at our Special General Meeting (SGM) on September 17, 2019 and is calling on all state and private agencies to support the efforts of the OPR.