DAMIEN GOMEZ Q C ON THE FNM’S CORRUPT COVID SPENDING | 29 January 2021

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

A new report by anti-corruption non-profit Transparency International reveals that a major challenge  facing countries today is ensuring that funds for COVID treatment and relief are “not lost to corruption  and reach the intended recipients”.  

These concerns are likely to resonate with Bahamians, who see the Minnis government boasting about  millions spent and wonder how so little of it seems to reach their families. 

In the group’s Corruption Perceptions Index, The Bahamas dropped one spot in the rankings from last  year. 

It’s important to remember that a country’s standing is based in part on an evaluation of existing  legislation, which can’t tell the full story. It doesn’t mean much to have the right rules in place if those  rules aren’t enforced. For example, although in The Bahamas our Emergency Measures regulations  feature a requirement that expenditures and suppliers be reported to Parliament, the Prime Minister has  openly disregarded that requirement, preferring to keep that information hidden from the people’s  representatives and the public. 

In their report’s section featuring recommendations, Transparency International states that it is  essential for countries to ensure open and transparent contracting: “Many governments have drastically  relaxed procurement processes. These rushed and opaque procedures provide ample opportunity for  corruption and the diversion of public resources. Contracting processes must remain open and  transparent to combat wrongdoing, identify conflicts of interest and ensure fair pricing.” 

In The Bahamas, every day it becomes harder and harder to reconcile the government’s bragging  about millions spent with the hunger, anguish and suffering that are widespread across the country.