Data from the World Bank shows that many more domestic firms in The Bahamas experience bribery than those firms with 10 percent or more foreign ownership.
The data on the World Bank’s website, when viewed by ownership subgroup, reveals that bribery incidences for domestic firms is about 20.9 percent, while 16 percent of firms with 10 percent or more foreign ownership experienced at least one bribe payment request.
The data also reveals that, of those firms “expected to give gifts to public officials ‘to get things done’”, more firms with 10 percent or more foreign ownership experienced this kind of bribery (30.8 percent), as opposed to domestic firms at 16.5 percent.
More domestic firms said they were “expected to give gifts to get a construction permit” at 28.9 percent, while 12.2 percent of firms with 10 percent or more foreign ownership experienced this request.
At the end of January it was revealed that The Bahamas’ Corruption Perceptions Index hit its highest level last year. In terms of its position in the Americas, The Bahamas is ranked number six out of 33 countries, with Canada, the United States and Uruguay in the top three spots as the least corrupt, and Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela in the bottom three as the most corrupt.
Of the CARICOM nations on the list, The Bahamas ranks below only Barbados, which is fourth on the overall list.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis made corruption and the need to eradicate it the centerpiece of his election campaign and much of his message after his party won the May 2017 general election.
Transparency International wrote the prime minister in July 2017, stating that it expected the government to “adopt a national action plan for good governance, which includes increased levels of citizen participation in the decision-making process”.
The group recommended the government pass a strong Freedom of Information Act; whistleblower protection legislation; enforce the Public Disclosure Act; consider political campaign finance reform as a priority; and have a fair and open public procurement system.
A Freedom of Information Act with a whistleblower protection clause has already been passed. The whistleblower section came into force last March.
The Public Disclosure Act has been spottily enforced, if at all, in recent years.
The government has yet to table legislation for an open public procurement system, though it has promised it is coming.
Campaign finance reform remains a theoretical discussion in the political sphere.
According to the World Bank data, the percentage of domestic firms expected to give gifts to get an operating license was 20.1, while no firms with 10 percent or more foreign ownership reported giving gifts to get an operating license.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism