Commentary: Tackling Corruption

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‘We must not continue like this as the strengthening of public institutions that provide checks and balances must be enhanced where proper laws are put into place to support public accountability’
By Dr Neil Gosine

WHEN corruption seeps into a government like a cancer the people will never be able to tackle the problems such as the spiralling crime rates and murder rates in the nation.

Corruption is a root cause that prevents checks and balances to seriously tackle crime in any society.
It’s ironic because some politicians used the promises of lucrative state contracts to get into power and end up going down a black hole to remain in power; they use their influence over various sectors to ensure party faithful get the massive state contracts. So they end up compromising their integrity and dignity for power and wealth.
Our government never developed effective anti-corruption and integrity mechanisms in all their years in power, and now find themselves in a position where everything is spiralling out of control in low performing functioning institutions.
Just look at the recent fiasco with the 20 wooden ladders that cost taxpayers approximately $1 million. Imagine 20 wooden ladders costing this figure and someone wants us to believe that this is normal day-to-day business within this sector.
Many questions are being asked however, no one has the answers or is coming forward with it, such as, a list of the suppliers, who received the contracts and provide equipment to the Fire Service.
The Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service (TTFS) has not provided the names of their suppliers to date as there are many unanswered questions on the acquisition of these wooden ladders, like where the ladders are from and what make are these ladders.
The ladders don’t seem to have a brand or a make. How curious?! If you are paying $50,000 for a single ladder, they must have a make, model, or a brand on it. Who are the manufacturers of the ladders?
Our Government must do better that this man, and in the interest of the public purse we must not continue to see our taxpayer’s dollars used in such schemes. Our public officials keep deflecting inquiries and some people who have come to power on public disgust with corruption never seem to be accountable to the people that put them in power.
Ironically we keep voting across party lines instead of competence and the same people we put in power to tackle corruption, when they get into power now, seek to undermine the anti-corruption mechanisms.
We must not continue like this as the strengthening of public institutions that provide checks and balances must be enhanced where proper laws are put into place to support public accountability. Not undermining these laws or blocking the implementation.
This should include press freedoms and accountability to the public that can contribute to fighting corruption and the preservation of transparency and not the messes caused by this blatant squander-mania.
Just look at another instance where the government ended up paying for the leasing of a building in east Port of Spain on which it had spent approximately $55 million to house the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), but which DPP Roger Gaspard had chosen not to occupy.
Wow! Millions in rent, electricity bills and renovations with outfitting bullet-proofing along the entire northeastern wall of the property at the alleged request of the DPP costing the taxpayers a whopping  $55,551,443, but never occupying the building.
This is just another unbelievable case and to make matters worse the Public Utilities Minister Allyson West had the gall to state that there was no corruption involved in the $55 million rental of a building on Park Street.
This is just normal business for the ministry. Wait, so no one realised that they were paying rent at approximately $500,000 per month and that no one was occupying the building, and that a normal rental agreement has a 30-day clause of a notice of cancellation.
Wow! Further, they continued to pay the rent for such a long time with no occupancy and when the lease agreement came to an end, they started to rent the building on a month-to-month basis. A month-to-month basis can be cancelled at any month.
So please tell me how this happened without anyone realising the expense was being paid to some lucky person or persons associated with it. These people really think the average citizens are dummies and can’t read, add or subtract.
The information coming out from questions asked by the opposition in parliament is that the attorney general said that the term of the lease had expired and after the lease expired it was running on a month-to-month basis. Sigh!
If we continue to run this country like this, how do we expect to ever see a real change and how do we expect to tackle the crime crisis where we seem to have corruption seeping into every corner of our society starting with top coming straight to the bottom.
Neil Gosine is an insurance executive. He is also the treasurer of the UNC and a former chairman of the National Petroleum Marketing Company of Trinidad and Tobago. He holds a Doctorate in Business Administration, a Master’s in Business Administration MBA, BSC in Mathematics and a BA in Administrative Studies. The views and comments expressed in this column are not necessarily those of AZP News, a Division of Complete Image Limited.


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