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Mixed fortunes for Caribbean countries in international report on corruption

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Fri, Dec 5, 2014

Editor: Corruption is rife in most Caribbean countries. My native Guyana is high on the list for dishonesty and malpractices by government officials, as well as private sector personnel. Recently, a well placed Guyanese businessman was arrested in Puerto Rico after more than US$620,000 was found in his private jet, which had landed on that island to refuel.{{more}}

Although government ministers in St Vincent and the Grenadines are being blamed for mishandling their affairs, no one can seriously point fingers at Ralph Gonsalves and his administration for corruption and this is being reflected in the last report of the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, which was made public a few days ago. The multi-island country was placed third among Caricom countries, with Barbados coming out on top, followed by The Bahamas.

St Vincent and the Grenadines has a rank of 29 and a score of 67. Barbados, with a score of 74, has a ranking of 19, while Bahamas with a score of 71, ranked at 24.

Dominica claimed the fourth spot, with a ranking of 39 and a score of 58. Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago followed. Guyana is way down, just one above Haiti, which is at the bottom of the ladder for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states.

In the 1990s, SVG was blacklisted because a couple of offshore companies were not operating above board and this cast a bad reflection, but those corporations are no longer in existence and although the economic state of the country is not as sound as the administration and businessman would like and unemployment is high, the country is doing fairly well, taking into consideration the downturn of the economy in the region and the wider world.

The administration will, however, have to look closely at the increase in violent crimes in the country. There are reports that most of the crimes are drug related and there is an increase of violence against women. The Government, in a move to curb assault and battery on the fairer sex, has introduced legislation to pave the way for women to have firearm licences for protection against violent men.

What is a plus for the Ralph Gonsalves administration is that the country is not as corrupt as most Caribbean states, especially Guyana, which is heading for a political showdown since President Donald Ramotar prorogued Parliament in order to stave off a no confidence motion filed against his PPPR administration.

Corruption undermines democracy, weakens the rule of law and does not auger well for development of any democratic country.

Oscar Ramjeet

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