by Akash Samaroo
Trinidad and Tobago’s public sector is being perceived as slightly less corrupt than it was a year before.
Moving from a score of 40 in 2020 to 41 in 2021 in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) called it a good platform but “statistically insignificant.”
“The important point to note is although there is a one-point move for Trinidad and Tobago, more needs to be done,” said Dion Abdool, TTTI chairman.
Abdool noted that this is far better than the score of 35 achieved in 2016 but lamented that this country has scored between 40 and 41 since then.
“We seem to be plateauing and we need to take decisive action to get past the pass mark of 50 or higher. You need 50 marks to pass an exam and we haven’t reached there yet.”
Barbados leads the Caribbean with a score of 65.
Abdool said the “decisive action” that is needed must come from the Red House as legislation that has been talked about for years should be implemented immediately.
“To move from where we are we need the immediate operationalisation and implementation of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act. We need it like yesterday. We also call for Whistle Blower legislation, Campaign Finance Legislation and an Open Government Partnership.”
Speaking at the launch of the report yesterday, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi sought to give an update on both the Public Procurement and Campaign Finance legislations.
“We have just done the 12 regulations to make that (Public Procurement legislation) come to life, that is only as good as Campaign Finance Reform which is completed in terms of a bill laid in the Parliament, referred to a Joint Select Committee (JSC) and will be completed with a passage of special majority considerations.”
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi believes the main factor in moving this country’s score to the 80s will be the Judiciary delivering by way of judgements, the many thousands of matters the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) brings before it.
“And I am very pleased to say that the Backlog Management Committee chaired by the Chief Justice will be making an announcement soon as we go into revealing the preparedness for trials in specialist courts.”
In its global analysis, it warned “The use by some Governments of the COVID-19 pandemic to erode human rights and democracy could also lead to sharper declines across the globe in the future.”
The TTTI said this country’s 2021 score was based on data from the year 2020.
Chairman Abdool said this means for example the work of the Financial Intelligence Bureau in 2021 will only be reflected in the next annual report.
The TTTI believes if the Attorney General’s plans are operationalised it will increase this country’s score.
Currently, the top spot is held by Denmark and Sweden (88) and the lowest Somalia, Syria and South Sudan (13).
The Americas scored an average of 43 with the chair of Transparency International, Delia Ferreira Rubio saying, “Decisive action is needed to reverse this trend to protect civil society, and defend human rights and democracy.”
This country’s CPI was the result of seven data sources, each with a list of questions for the public, two of them being ‘Do you think bribery and corruption exist in the Public Sector’ and “Do you think the Government does enough to contain corruption in the Public Service?”
Guardian Media put the former of the two questions to members of the public yesterday.
“Yes, because I see some things that are happening,” said a man asked only to be identified as Kareem while another gentleman quickly walked away saying, “What you think? I refuse to even answer that.”