The Minnis administration is holding steadfast to its stance on anti-corruption, with Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd becoming the latest Cabinet minister to call The Bahamas out for what he said is deeply rooted widespread corruption.
“Ten per cent of our revenue is being lost every year to corruption, slackness, waste and inefficiency,” Lloyd said, as he echoed statements made by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who recently revealed that corruption in The Bahamas accounts for an estimated $200M in overruns annually.
The prime minister’s comments came during the Eighth Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, which was held over the weekend.
Lloyd was a part of the government’s delegation that traveled to the international event.
While the prime minister has received criticism for his comments on the international stage, Lloyd applauded Dr. Minnis’ transparency and underscored the government’s commitment to remedy the age-old issue.
“We are in the process of putting in place a proper procurement process so that everything is above board and that there is accountability throughout the system. Not just politicians but also the public and private sector,” he said.
“We must be judicious and wise when dealing with the tax payers’ money. The Bahamian people did not put us here to perpetuate the status quo, we are here to attack and destroy it; replacing it with a society of responsibility, accountability, proficiency, efficiency and respect for one another. The prime minister has been insistent, from day one, on this principal. This is how we will govern ourselves and this country.”
In 2017, the Minnis administration introduced new anti-corruption legislation in 2017, aimed at promoting and enhancing ethical conduct for parliamentarians, public officials and other persons.
The legislation is said to provide measures for the prevention, detection and investigation of acts of corruption.
To this end, the government established a first-ever Integrity Commission, coupled with the Ombudsman Bill – which are both a part of what the government has called an “Anti-Corruption Package”.
“We must be judicious and wise when dealing with the tax payers’ money. It’s only fair. Our country is now in a new culture of accountability and responsibility and the prime minister is insistent, from day one, on this principal. This is how we will govern ourselves and this country,” he noted.
The Office of Ombudsman will also be created to provide a direct source of relief where people have legitimate grievances due to the actions, or inactions, of government or any agency of government.
“An expert from Jamaica is coming to town to do training for our people. This is a process where we … capacitate our department, so that they are capable to deliver on the requests that Bahamians will have; enabling them to have access to freedom of information. It’s not a matter of just signing this into law, but it is a matter of brining infrastructure into place so that these requests can be fulfilled,” he said.
As the government prepares to stamp out corruption in the public and private sector, it has offered to assist other countries with developing plans to eradicate corruption within their jurisdictions as well.
The education minister was also keen to point out that corruption within his own ministry needed to be addressed as well speaking specifically to contract workers who refuse to show up for work.
“You have people in my ministry who haven’t been to work in almost 100 business days. What are we doing? These people are still being paid. In some instances, we know that they even have other jobs. This is an entrenched culture, not episodic instances,” he said.
Lloyd affirmed that the hundreds of education contract workers, who are found to be delinquent, will be dealt with accordingly.
“They will be disciplined and/or fired. We will not waste government money and this ministry will not participate in a culture of slackness and dishonesty,” he promised.