PUBLIC SERVICE CORRUPTION part 1

“Deo adjuvante, non timendum.”
“With God as My Helper, I have nothing to fear.”

In a local article it was suggested that privateers and pirates painted the early history of The Bahamas, inspiring The Bahamas’ earlier motto, Expulsis Piratis Restituta Commercia (pirates expelled, commerce restored).

The article concluded that by 1725 the Golden Age of Piracy was over, and by the time the Bahamas gained independence from Britain in 1973, the motto was changed.

The year is now 2017, some 292 years later and the reality is that commerce may have been restored, but the pirates are still with us in the House of Parliament, the Senate, and in the Public Service.

While swords are no longer swinging, many a pen are slashing the throats of unsuspecting victims in this game of corruption that is alive and well in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

To define corruption is a most challenging feat that requires one to think beyond the mere meaning and deeper into annals of human existence.

Webster sees corruption as a breakdown, decay, decomposition, festering, putrefaction, putrescence and disintegration of morality and virtue through inducement, dishonest, or illegal behavior by those in authority or governance.

The World Banks regards corruption as a complex phenomenon whose roots lie deep in bureaucratic and political institutions. While the term corruption covers a broad range of actions the simplest definition is the abuse of public office for personal gain.

The true question we should ask at this juncture is, how do these miscreants benefit themselves? Simply put, when a public officer accepts, solicits or extorts a bribe by circumventing public policies and processes for competitive advantage and profit. However, the World Bank further suggests that personal benefit can be had through patronage, nepotism, theft of state assets, or the diversion of state revenues.

In essence bribes are one of the main tools of corruption and includes, government contracts, licenses, time, legal outcomes and government benefits. This also includes political and bureaucratic corruption, isolated and systemic corruption, as well as corruption involving private sector partnerships.

We can also add victimization to this list of vile behaviours that are very apparent in the public service. However, no matter the label, the heart of this notion of corruption is in its most basic form “GREED”.

According to a 2014 report by Transparency International, the government has laws to combat corruption of and by public officials but they appear to be inconsistently applied.

Reports of corruption, including allegations of widespread patronage and routine directing of contracts to party supporters and benefactors, have plagued the political system for decades.

These sentiments speak volumes for the former Christie administration who had the relevant laws to manage the high levels of corruption but failed; because it benefitted them all.

Since the FNM took office we are bombarded daily with reports from Parliament, the local dailies and the like of the endemic levels of corruption that was either never investigated or not reported.

In his contributions to the House, the Minister of Works spoke of the alleged millions of stolen funds from the Bahamas Power and Light and with regard to abuse of the legal authority of the Christie Cabinet in funds used for BAMSI and other projects.

I implore upon the Minister that he ought to ensure that the Attorney General, the Honourable Carl Bethell use the full extent of his authority and take note of the Caribbean Court of Justice’s ruling for the AG of Belize to take legal action against all cabinet ministers in the PLP for the millions in losses and illegal, “free for all” give-away of the Bahamian people’s money.

Two weeks before the general election the former prime minister put the government in a precarious position.

The Bahamas will not tolerate a Christie, Davis and Company government ever! Some PLP has institutionalized corruption — Is there an antidote? Minnis must find a way to implement an Act and grandfather old contracts in so that they can be legally broken.

We have the financial intelligence unit in cooperation with the corruption and complaint agency ready and able to investigate all of these matters that have come to the forefront

John Adams clearly understand the importance of character for good governance and thus suggests that,” Because power corrupt, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increase”.

I am most embarrassed for the Don, who is now the leader of the opposition, he is so emboldened in spite of the allegations of treachery and mismanagement, he stands in the honourable House of Parliament and repeats yet again the same sentiments, that the budget offers no hope for ordinary people.

What he should be doing is apologizing to the Bahamian people and begging their forgiveness for the wrongs he has done, when he knows full well that the state of the country is largely his fault.

What good did he do for the people when he was in office? The only good we can recall is the good he did for himself over and repeatedly for five consecutive years we had to endure his rapacious actions against the people and the country.

If Marcus Garvey were alive he would tell the Don, “The ends that you serve that are selfish will take you no farther than yourself. But the ends that you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity”. This said, we all know where you are destined to go, into the very pits of HELL!!!

Dr. Minnis must ensure that there is a declaration of all relationships in the public service to avoid the excessive levels of nepotism, and the granting of salaries, promotions and otherwise to benefit persons who are well connected.

This common practice of the PLP regularly leaves those who are not in the mix on the outside of benefits that they would otherwise be entitled to.

Systematic corruption in which the discretion of many public officials may be exacerbated by poorly defined and inadequately functioning policies, rules and regulations, developed by an ageing westminister system of governance through general orders that in fact have been ineffectual must be reformed.

The Honourable Theresa Moxey-Ingraham requested in 1999 that a new system of assessing the performance of all civil servants be developed. This initiative was progressed through the Project Unit located at the BTVI campus.

Unfortunately, the requirements were not adequately followed and still allowed non performers to receive increments.

Any enlightened organization does not just give away money or incentives for employees for merely show to work.

They must be fully engaged, meet pre-established goals which should naturally trickle down from the government’s strategic plan for the country, and be measured against a performance rating backdrop. These assessment ratings usually include a scale that determines if the employee can be classified as either of the following:
• Significantly above set goals
• Above set goals
• On Target with set goals
• Below set goals
• Significantly below set goals
Additionally, all of the above ratings should have defined behavioural measurements so that subjectivity is ruled out.

It is now 2017, the old performance appraisal system must be revisited and a new measuring tool implemented, where all are accountable for actions either taken or not taken at all levels of the public service. Had such a programme been followed or implemented, the likes of the Director of Education and the Undersecretary who was promoted in 5 days would not be a factor in this equation.

We must progress with the times if we want to have a fighting chance to keep up with the competition globally not just in the Caribbean.

The policy advisor to our Prime Minister, Mr. Joshua Sears must use his good office to ensure that this new performance appraisal process is implemented civil service wide, and to include the government’s strategic plans and smart goals for all employees.

I have every confidence that Mr. Sears will do his endeavor best to bring about positive policy amendments and changes to the system that is a benefit to the government and the people. In essence, a win-win situation for all.

A forensic audit needs to be implemented to determine if these government agencies met best business practices, otherwise the persons facilitating corruption should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

It is a crying shame that Trinidad and England allow their judges to take a sabbatical for 2 months annually, due to the heavy work load and high levels of stress.

We have a judiciary commission that is more ancient than a dinosaur that is filled with PLP sympathizers. There should be a scheduled review of salaries every 3 years and not much has been done in this regard.
Additionally, we need to facilitate additional reforms within the judiciary.

In a 2009 article it addressed a report by Lord Woolf in which he concluded that the overriding objectives of this reform was that the then present system of civil justice was too slow, too expensive, too complex and too inaccessible.

The reform was, simply, to enable the court to deal with cases justly. This means:
• ensuring that the parties are on an equal footing;
• saving expense;
• dealing with a case in ways which are proportionate to the nature of the case;
• ensuring that a case is dealt with expeditiously and fairly; and
• allotting to it an appropriate share of the court’s resources, while taking into account the need to allot resources to other cases.

The article further addressed pre-action protocols, offers to settle and costs. We should take a hard look at these and other recommendations, many of which have been implemented in the British court system.

Mr. Prime Minister, for your legacy to last, your policy advisor must put a position paper forward for a review of these salaries.

Mr. Prime Minister, you were elected for the people and it is imperative that you operate outside the box and do not adopt the same “status quo” system of governance you have inherited.

As I said in my previous article, the revolution will start in the civil service. Remember the jezebel charm, corruption comes in all shapes and forms. You were divinely appointed, look out for your judges and other senior civil servants as they are severely underpaid.

I am confident that my learned friend Mr. Joshua Sears will do everything he can to assist you in doing what is right and just.

Mr. Prime Minister, your government should seek to nationalize gambling.

Finally, Mr. Prime Minister, I congratulate you for the fantastic initiative with regard to new legislation for persons applying for citizenship. This proposed change will no doubt make this most important milestone for applicants much simpler, and devoid of political interference. God speed as you tarry to rebuild this great country. The Bahamian people are counting on YOU!