We boast of being the best positioned on the corruption perception index (CPI) in the Caribbean AND of being a model democracy. In fact traditional indicators reported by Transparency International and other watchdog agencies support the position. We should not be lulled into thinking that all is hunky dory because some “surveys which form the CPI … based on responses from academics, country specialists and business executives”, closes the matter. The question to be answered is what would be the results of similar surveys sent to Jane and John Citizen reveal.
The blogmaster like others is of the view we should be concerned about the level of white collar crime at the citizen AND corporate level which includes private and public sectors. Unfortunately the existing structure ‘undergirding’ our culture of doing business makes it a challenging undertaking to significantly attack corruption. There are several examples to explain.
The average man in the street is aware how licenses in the public service vehicle sector have been distributed for many years. If you know a minister or high ranking official at the ministry of transportation, for a small contribution in some form, a license can be secured. Note the interaction between citizen and public official. Often times the citizen represents wealth and high social standing standing in the society. Therefore one can understand how positions taken are supported and sustained in wider society. Every where a political system exist, politicians and public officials are inclined to corrupt behaviour because greed from time immemorial is known as one of the 7 deadly sins.
Although the construct of our governance system is not perfect there is room to reduce corrupt behaviour in a small country like Barbados. A well-functioning media and the political opposition operating in tandem with the citizenry is required. As long as the so called establishment maintains a headlock on these entities, we will continue to chase our tails.
What prevents for example an effective traditional media with the respectability it cloaks itself from effectively calling out the Barbados Bar Association (BAR) and Disciplinary Committees about the sloth – another of the deadly sins – regarding how complaints from the public are being processed? This is a matter members of the public have voiced concerns about day in day out and no serious attempt taken to offer redress. Barbados Underground has been a lone voice in a dark wilderness on the matter, of recent Richard ‘Johnny’ Cheltenham’s refusal to answer a request to appear before the Disciplinary Committee of the BAR, there are many others.
What prevents the media from calling out governments on the ineffective workings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), one of the key working committees of parliament? All it takes is to evaluate the body of work produced by that committee post the 70s and a conclusion is quickly reached to support why members of both major political parties are card carrying members of the political electorate.
What prevents political parties in opposition speaking up on these bread and butter issues that intimately touch the everyday life of Jane and John citizen? The blogmaster cannot recall a single political opposition party in recent decades attacking matters of this flavour with any zeal. Therein lies the hypocrisy in our system of rule. A system of corruption that is embedded in our ‘dna’ that it has earned the label today of being endemic.
We have reached a point where superfluous attempts to address corruption in society here and elsewhere is the tinder stoking citizen dissent. Are we there yet?