By Clint Chan Tack
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO yesterday slipped further in Transparency Institute's Corruption Perception Index (CPI), with the 2004 CPI giving this country a score of 4.2 and rating it fifty-third out of 146 nations ranked on the basis of perceived corruption. On the CPI, nations' scores range from ten (least corrupt) to one (most corrupt). These statistics were revealed yesterday at a media briefing held by the TT Transparency Insitute (TTTI) in Port-of-Spain coinciding with the global launch of the 2004 CPI at Transparency International's headquarters in Bonn, Germany.
TT first appeared on the CPI in 2001 with a score of 5.3, and that score has fallen consistently to 4.9 in 2002 and 4.6 in 2003. Finland topped the CPI with a score of 9.7 with Haiti and Bangladesh in the cellar position with a score of 1.5. According to the Index, TI viewed TT as one of several countries, "that is perceived to be increasing in corruption." Other nations in this category include the Dominican Republic (2.9), Jamaica (3.3) and Saudi Arabia (3.4.) In the Caribbean, Barbados was the least corrupt Caribbean nation for 2004, with a score of 7.3. Overall, the CPI indicated that "oil rich countries have very low CPI scores."
TTTI director Petra Bridgemohan said, "On the basis of data from sources that were used for 2003 and 2004, TT is being seen as more corrupt. We therefore suggest to the Government, that based on these international, independent reports, the Government's anti-corruption systems are not being perceived as effective." She suggested that Government examine the reasons for this continuing decline with its anti-corruption expert Bertrand de Speville, who was brought in by former attorney general Glenda Morean in 2001 to guide Government's anti-corruption strategies. On a paper about anti-corruption efforts in TT, de Speville said corruption had caused significant damage to nearly every aspect of life in the country over the last 20 years. He said any new anti-corruption strategy should include "action against corruption in politics," and either a revamped Integrity Commission or a new commission that would play a pivotal role in fighting corruption.
Government opted for the former after criticism from the Opposition. De Speville also said a three-pronged strategy of enforcement, prevention and education could effectively deal with corruption in public life. Bridgemohan said questions have been raised in recent times about the effectiveness of the Auditor General's reports and parliamentary joint select committees as anti-corruption tools. She also questioned whether the media had "a nine-day wonder" attitude where alleged corruption was concerned, and drew reference to charges that were recently levelled against the North-West Regional Health Authority. Bridgemohan also claimed Government might be sending the wrong signals to the population about its efforts to combat corruption by exempting organisations such as the Central Bank from the Freedom of Information Act. Her TTTI colleague, Johanna Koorn, said the CPI only shows perceived corruption and does not measure Government's anti-corruption efforts.
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