Transparently opaque

I noticed in the 2012 Corruption Perception Index that T&T are maintaining a fairly constant mid-table position. But for a country such as Trinidad & Tobago, armed with everything needed to join the first world league, the result means continuing disappointment and leads you to wonder why the Government has not taken stronger action.

Indeed, you may argue that the Government has actually added to the country’s poor international perception, with Section 34 still on people’s minds.

The snail-like progress of the Clico inquiry, while perhaps necessary, is almost light speed compared to other investigations on the books.

It just seems as though no one is really interested in cleaning up this country’s image and not only recovering ill gotten gains, but locking up the perpetrators who are still running around carrying out business as normal.

But not only is the legal system slow in prosecuting cases, the investigative organisations seem equally sloth-like.

The Government, rather than being seen to be tough on corruption and demanding of transparency, which are clearly remembered election promises, instead takes the stance that allegations against its Ministers are unworthy of investigation, despite the public piling on to the streets in protest.

A government focused on enhancing its country’s reputation would take immediate action to quell any negative rumour concerning its ministers. Instead, what do we see?

Section 34 has never been fully explained, despite the fall of the Minister of Justice.

But the oozing zit on the holier-than-thou facade of the Government is Minister Jack Warner. Like a recurring blackhead, as soon as you get rid of one, another appears.

The 2006 World Cup players’ case is well into its sixth year with Mr Warner, the man allegedly in sole control of the missing $100 million, still not made to answer the myriad questions directed at him.

Apparently, the Integrity Commission is also investigating Mr Warner, along with the FBI, IRS and CONCACAF.

FIFA is still investigating the alleged non-payment of US$250,000 to the Haiti earthquake victims and then there’s the issue regarding the ownership of the Centre of Excellence.

And we must not forget the Trinidad & Tobago police investigation into the Hyatt bribery affair.

Poor Mr Warner. Money just seems to disappear when he’s around, yet he still seems to be quite wealthy. And, of course, he’s been entrusted with the largest allocation of funds ever given to a single Minister.

And there is the problem. No one in their right mind would allow someone involved in so many financial allegations to get a grip on billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. Regardless of whether Mr Warner is innocent, which, of course, we all hope he is, the mere suggestion of corruption and financial wrongdoing should immediately result in a step back from Ministerial office until his name has been cleared.

Remember, we are not talking about mischievous gossip. There is evidence substantial enough to investigate.

So how can the government seriously expect the rest of the world to trust us?

From the evidence on display, it would appear that the current Government has no interest in transparency or integrity.


Editor’s Note: Do you think the Corruption Perception Index is meaningful? Does corruption affect you?

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