Media Release: Marking International Anti-Corruption Day on December 09, 2022
“To confront criminals, we need to finish with corruption. If we don’t do this, there is no hope” – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
The scourge of corruption significantly compromises our ability to forge a nation that stands by the people and for the people. Trinidad and Tobago is ranked 82 in the Corruption Perceptions Index for 2021 as published by Transparency International, together with Belarus and Timor-Leste. There is no honour in sharing this ranking with these countries.
As we grow increasingly despondent about the state of crime in our country with its spiraling murder rate, we cannot lose sight of the crime of corruption which can eviscerate our economy and, ultimately, our social well-being. December 09, 2022 is the day designated as International Anti-Corruption Day by the United Nations. It is not a day of celebration but one that highlights a pandemic that has dogged our society from its independence.
Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago have grown accustomed to swirling allegations of corruption at all levels of society. To participate in the simplest public service offerings; bribes have become commonplace. “The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the government did not enforce the law effectively, and officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. There were credible reports of police and government corruption during the year. Corruption was a problem at many levels of government. Opaque public procurement processes were a concern. Statutes governing conflicts of interest were rarely enforced, making nepotism and corruption commonplace.” – 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Trinidad and Tobago-US Department of State.
Climate change has transformed weather patterns and has led to flooding episodes never experienced before. Yet, the situation has been exacerbated by poor planning practices, at times, associated with allegations of corruption in the non-enforcement of existing laws. “Trinidad is nice; Trinidad is a paradise”. Brother Valentino in the classic style of the Calypsonian, notes that this is only the perspective of a foreigner without a deep understanding of the social issues underpinning life in Trinidad and Tobago. As a nation, we must ensure that there is integrity in public life. The absence of integrity in governance can only serve to amputate our very souls.