NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) on Wednesday renewed its call for the passage of the Integrity Commission Bill and the Ombudsman Bill, amidst what they described as a storm of speculation in the recent handling of alleged corruption cases involving cabinet ministers.
Executive Director of the ORG, Matt Aubry, told media yesterday that the bills would directly address issues of corruption.
“Although this bill was tabled there hasn’t been much movement on it. And our position as an organization is that a bill like that would have made a lot of the efforts that would have gone over the last year a lot clearer.
“The money could’ve been better spent in terms of setting this [Bill] up but we don’t see the movement happening from the government [or] from the opposition to really push and drive this forward,” Aubree said.
Aubree mentioned that the governing [FNM] party neither the opposition [PLP] pushed for the bill to be debated in the House, however, he said to some extent the public also holds a certain level of responsibility.
“The public needs to shift some of our energy from getting upset about what we’re seeing day-to-day to really getting in front of it and making sure we don’t make these mistakes going forward.”
He also laid out the perimeters of the bills and why its passage is vital.
“It changes and takes over the public disclosure model creating a more transparent opportunity for it and for it to be done in an independent setting. It calls for that commission to go in and look at government and identify where opportunities for corruption may be happening. And how to minimize those [and] make recommendations but it also has in its charge a code of conduct [on] what legislators should be doing so that they don’t fall into an area of concern.”
Opposition chairman Fred Mitchell also weighed in on the ORG’s assertion that they had not pushed the bill in the house.
Mitchell told Eyewitness News in a phone interview that the opposition has no direct control but he did describe the bills as intrusive.
“The bill is very intrusive, the bill has extensive provisions, extensive bureaucracy and doesn’t seem on the face of it to resolve the problems which exist in the society on those matters.
“They would be well placed in my view to have their voices as independent voices speak up on the present issues before the country,” Mitchell said.