The Citizens for a Better Bahamas (CBB) organization is pushing for campaign finance reform, following a recent survey that showed 86 per cent of residents believed that the electorate is bribed during elections.
CBB Chairman Lemarque Campbell, who agitated for the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act said, that campaign finance reform is the most important element for transparent governance.
“Every election there is increased spending on campaigns and there is a high bribery rate when it comes to elections as our recent survey showed,” Campbell said.
“There has to come a time when it will no longer be money for votes or some promise to swing votes.”
Campbell noted that where money makes its way into politics and when the origin of those funds cannot be determined, it opens the door for corruption.
According to Campbell, successive governments have promised to introduce campaign finance reform but legislation has yet to materialize.
He said the government must also add “teeth” to the Public Disclosure Act to make elected officials and public servants more accountable.
“We have to ensure that the act is enforced,” he said.
“Many Parliamentarians, we are not sure if they have properly disclosed and we need reforms in the current legislation.”
Campbell also noted that it is up to the Public Disclosure Commission to make those records public.
Senior public officers who fail to disclose theirs as well as their immediate families’ assets, interests, and income, could be subject to a $10,000 fine, up to two years in jail or both. And, where the offense involves the deliberate non-disclosure of the property of a senator or MP, the court could order the property forfeited to the government.
While The Bahamas is well ahead of some of its regional counterparts in requiring individual public officers to disclose their financial records, Campbell stressed that it should be taken a step further.