Tuesday, Jun 25, 2019
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Promoting transparent and accountable governance

Dear Editor,

A prerequisite to good, competent and productive governance is accountable, transparent and honest government officials.  This is the sort of governance for which the Free National Movement (FNM) is known, and which it has delivered to the Bahamian people.

This is in stark contrast to the opposition whose poor, incompetent and unproductive governance ran side-by-side with scandalous and corrupt behavior by some of the very same people it is set to run in the next general election.

Applying a new coat of paint to a house with cracks in its foundation and significant structural problems does not make for a new house.  Nor does applying the word “new” to an opposition still set on its old bad habits and record.

The 2011 report by Transparency International measuring the perceived levels of corruption in the public sector in 183 countries and territories around the world included good news for The Bahamas.

“The report states that a country/territory’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0-10, where 0 means that a country is perceived as highly corrupt and 10 means that a country is perceived as very clean.”

“The Bahamas ranked third in the Americas with a score of 7.3, scoring higher than the United States and Chile in our hemisphere and higher than France, Portugal and many other countries.”

The Bahamas also ranked “21st in the world on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2011 report, which means that it is perceived as a notably transparent country”.

“The data sources used to compile the index include questions relating to the abuse of public power and focuses on bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and on questions that probe the strength and effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts in the public sector.”

Over the past five years the FNM has broadened and deepened a culture of accountability and transparency through enhanced measures to better account for the use of public funds, reduce waste and fraud, and improve revenue collection.

Red tape continues to be reduced and there is now easier access to public services through the state-of-the-art new e-Government platform introduced after extensive consultation with the government of Singapore.

Unlike the former government, which did not disclose various heads of agreements related to Baha Mar and the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), the FNM tabled agreements on these matters in the House of Assembly for public review and debate prior to votes in Parliament.

A mid-year budget review was introduced as a measure to report to Parliament on public finances midway through the budget year.  The review was designed to make public officials even more accountable and transparent in the management of public funds.

The opposition has repeatedly stated that this measure of accountability and fiscal stewardship is a waste of time.  It is never a waste of time to inform the Bahamian people of how public funds are being spent and related measures to ensure the proper accounting of taxpayer dollars.

It is perhaps understandable why the opposition opposes various measures to improve for the accounting of public funds.  The Christie administration failed to ensure proper audits for numerous government agencies quite a number of which had not been audited for some time.

The FNM has a different standard.  We see the public purse not as a cookie jar, but as a national trust to be used to improve the quality of life of all Bahamians.  It is to be used for public good not private interests.  It is through transparent governance that public officials are held accountable in terms of the integrity they demonstrate in taking care of the people’s business.

 

– Free National Movement

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