Recognising TTTI’s 20th Anniversary

Good Afternoon Ladies, Gentlemen, Members, Media. On behalf of the Board of Directors, let me welcome you to our 2018 Annual General Meeting.

It was just about twenty (20) years ago that TTTI was conceptualized by our founders, some of whom are here today. Let me recognize our first Chair – Mr. Frank Clarke, past Chairs – Victor Hart, Boyd Reid and Deryck Murray. May I also make mention of some persons who are not here Reginald Dumas and Winston Rudder.

We must commend these gentlemen for their vision and foresight. Transparency International is also recognizing twenty-five (25) years of existence. Peter Eigen, Transparency International founder said recently in a comment to mark the 25th Anniversary that “the need for anti-corruption work will not end overnight and in a dynamic global movement such as Transparency International, we have the ability to find the right balance between cooperation and confrontation for the challenges ahead”.

Twenty (20) years is an important milestone to reflect on our achievements as a movement. It is also an opportunity to prepare TTTI for the challenges of the next twenty (20) years. At the recent AMM TI Chapters engaged in the same process with Chair –  Delia Ferreira, Managing Director – Patricia Moreira, Vice Chair – Reuben Lifuka and other members of Transparency International, discussions focused on the vision for the next twenty-five (25) years, where the movement sees itself in the next 3-5 years and so forth.

At TTTI we have started this process as well reviewing our Strategic Plan, shifting priorities in line with Transparency International, reviewing achievements, accelerating timelines etc.

The visionary people who set up our national movement tied it to a global one. The vision was the same, a world free of corruption. Today we are all part of it “Together against Corruption”.

As we move forward, we must recognize that the landscape has changed, corruption has become a many-headed hydra. We must strengthen our movement, adapt and become innovative to tackle the challenges of this hydra for the next twenty (20) years. We must embrace new ideas, new tools and new audiences. We must position corruption as a cross cutting issue for social justice.

We are already engaged in this process as you will hear from our Secretary – Susan Gordon when she presents the Activity Report. Let me highlight a couple of our strategic priorities:

We recognize that to influence the outcome twenty (20) years from now, we must influence those who will be adults and leaders twenty (20) years from now. To that end, together with our partners the NPTA, TTUTA, MOE we have launched iClubs in six (6) Secondary Schools, trained Students and Teachers. This is a demanding but worthwhile Project which is under the personal direction of our Vice Chair – Martin Farrel. We will work hard towards its success and more importantly its sustainability. It is an investment in the future.

We also recognize the need to change the narrative of our advocacy to include private sector on our radar. We need to address the two (2) sides of the coin if we are to shape the outcome in the next twenty (20) years! To this end, in partnership with the ALJBS we are one of only thirteen (13) Chapters of Transparency Intenational involved in a Business Integrity Country Agenda Project. This project like the iClub has a Steering Committee and Director – Kamla Mungal leads the Committee.

After a flurry of surveys, interviews and reviews the BICA Report is now completed and is with Transparency International. This Report will be for the basis for our future work with the private sector addressing issues such as governance and their procurement practices. This is a land mark achievement and the Report will be launched in early December.

As I look back, a lot has been done but there is still a lot of work to be done. In this regard, let me touch upon a deeper issue which has occupied my thoughts for some time – I am sure you as well. A couple of years ago I was involved with Transparency International in the conduct of a National Integrity Survey in the Caribbean. In our Caribbean Network Outreach Programme I as well, had cause to analyse and review the reason for the consistently good performance of the Nordic Countries in the CPI as compared to us and our neighbors.

At the IACC which was attended by Director – Jason Steadman and myself, I focused on three (3) sessions which addressed the issue. One (1) session titled Trust – the Nordic currency was particularly edifying as they analysed the issue from among others a historical, social anthropology, political science, economic perspective. Let me highlight some findings:

  • It seems there is no quick fix solution;
  • The Danes have worked on it for over three hundred (300) years;
  • The Nordic countries are uniquely “trust” based communities;
  • It is generally understood that the interests of the community come before personal interests – this has contributed to the low levels of corruption in the Nordics;
  • Low levels of corruption results in efficiency and a richer more equitable society;
  • Trust and low levels of corruption are closely linked;
  • There is trust and confidence in the institutions;
  • The currency of the Danes and the Nordic countries is “trust”.

At one of the plenary sessions titled Promoting Good Governance for Peace and Security, Jason and I had the good fortune to listen to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo – Iweala, a former Minister of Finance in Nigeria who underscored, from her practical experience of fighting corruption in Nigeria, the need to strengthen and build confidence in the civil service, build confidence in the institutions.

In looking toward our country’s future and our organization’s future work, it seems to me that we need to strategize and focus our advocacy on ways and means to develop our own currency, trust in our institutions, trust in our communities and trust between us as individuals. The solution to our puzzle might very well be found somewhere, we have not looked at hard enough – not just in the tangible things but rather in the intangible phenomena of relations between people.

How do you build this trust – Institutional, Social and Individual? TTTI’s work with the Parliamentary Committees, interventions with the private sector, partnerships with other civil society bodies, nurturing of values and character-building in our schools may very well point the way.

Speech by Mr. Dion Abdool, Chairman, Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) Annual General Meeting, Thursday 8th November 2018, Port of Spain

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