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U.S. highlights lack of local campaign finance laws

The Bahamas’ lack of progress in the regulation of campaign finance was among the issues highlighted in the United States’ 2018 Human Rights Report released yesterday by the U.S. State Department.

The report noted that the government has yet to implement laws regulating campaign finance.

“The campaign finance system is largely unregulated, with few safeguards against ‘quid pro quo’ donations, creating a vulnerability to corruption,” the report read.

“The procurement process was particularly susceptible to corruption, as it is opaque, contains no requirement to engage in open public tenders, and does not allow review of award decisions.

“The government nevertheless routinely issued open public tenders. During the year the government launched a process for all vendors and suppliers to register on an electronic platform to increase transparency and to improve the procurement process.

“The Minnis government pursued allegations of official corruption after taking office. As of November, cases continued regarding two former ministers and a former senator charged with corruption in 2017.”

Tackling corruption was a major theme of the Free National Movement ahead of the 2017 general election.

In his first national address as prime minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis said it was “unfair and unjust for politicians to accumulate considerable wealth from corruption” while citizens of the country are left behind.

“We need a new era of public integrity and reform,” Minnis said.

“This era is upon us.”

In October 2017, the government introduced the Integrity Commission Bill which would establish an integrity commission to investigate parliamentarians suspected of corruption.

In December 2017, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said the Public Procurement Bill would be introduced in early 2018, but that hasn’t happened.

Attorney General Carl Bethel told The Nassau Guardian in January that the government was preparing its draft campaign finance bill for public consultation.
 
 

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