Government reformers say not enough being done to address culture of corruption
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas has been dubbed the least corrupt country in the Caribbean, according to Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perception Index.
The country was ranked 29th for the second year in a row.
However, government reformers yesterday explained the ‘day to day’ experience in the country indicates not enough is being done to address the circumstances and culture that leads to corruption.
In the 2019 index, the country’s CPI scored dropped one notch to 64.
The rank means The Bahamas is perceived as a notably transparent country. The perceived level of public sector corruption in 180 countries/ territories was measured and tabulated on a scale from 0 to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 very clean.
Matt Aubry, Organization for Responsible Governance’s (ORG) executive director told Eyewitness News Online: “As you will see, The Bahamas dropped a point but Barbados lost even more ground, putting us as the least corrupt in The Caribbean.
“It is notable that places like Cayman and Aruba are not included in this review as they are dependencies. It’s also notable that the data sources that they use are mostly drawn from publicly available information, which we know is limited here or indicators that don’t tell the full story. For example, the Bahamas has a Freedom of Information law but is remains un-enacted.”
He continued: “Regardless of our ranking it seems that this review indicates that little has changed from the perspective of an international standard. This is supported with the day to day experience of Bahamians. When you add to this findings the recent Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer from Latin America you see that corruption is ingrained into our culture.
“The Bahamas remains the highest ranking of paying bribes as a matter of convenience. It is citizens solution as to how to navigate a slow and inefficient system. The down side is that supporting such a system continues to degrade the effectiveness of government, increases the cost and disproportionately impacts those that have the least. A pay to play culture only benefits the ‘haves’ and ostracizes the ‘have nots’.”
Aubry noted that while the government has done a number of positive things to improve transparency, there is much more to be done.
He noted that the full enactment of the Freedom of Information Act, establishment of the Integrity Council, Ombudsman are all “low hanging fruit”.
“We also need to build the public education and engagement about the true effect of corruption in The Bahamas,” Aubry said.
“As you know that is the impetus behind ORG Integrity Campaign. Public will for change in this area is going to be much more important that promises made on the campaign trail.
He added: “The Transparency International report is good as it puts folks on notice that the world is watching but the day to day story in The Bahamas reveals that we are not doing enough to address the circumstances and culture that leads to corruption and we all need to work to reverse this trajectory.”
Barbados ranked 30th with a score of 62/100; St Vincent and the Grenadines ranked 39th with a score of 59/100; Dominica ranked 48th with a score of 55/100; St Lucia ranked 48th with a score of 55/100; Grenada ranked 51st with a score of 53/100; Cuba ranked 60th with a score of 48/100; Jamaica ranked 74th with a score of 43/100; Trinidad and Tobago was ranked 85th with a score of 40/100; Guyana ranked 85th with a score of 40/100; and Haiti ranked 168th with a score of 18/100.