(Trinidad Express) Jack Warner’s continued presence in the country’s Cabinet amid allegations of bribery is believed to be an integral element in the perception of corruption in Trinidad and Tobago being at its all-time worst.
This statement was made by Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) chairman, Richard Joseph, at a press conference to announce the results of the 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) yesterday.
Trinidad and Tobago has been ranked 91 out of 183 with a score of 3.2 out of ten, the results of this years CPI has stated.
It is the lowest ranking this country has ever attained since being included in the CPI for the first time in 2001.
In 2001 Trinidad and Tobago was ranked 31 out of 91 countries and scored 5.3 out of ten.
Last year this country was ranked 73 out of 178 countries with a score of 3.6.
Joseph described the change in ranking from 73 to 91 as a “precipitous drop”.
The CPI ranks countries based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be and is a combination of surveys drawing on corruption-related data collected by a variety of reputable institutions . It reflects the views of observers from around the world, including experts living and working in the countries evaluated, Joseph said.
The CPI uses a simple form of indexing to arrive at a score ranging between zero, perceived to be the most corrupt, and ten, perceived to be the least corrupt.
The surveys used to prepare the 2011 ranking covered the period from December 2009 to September 2011, Joseph said.
“The current index places Trinidad and Tobago behind Jamaica which it previously outranked. Barbados and Dominica maintain their rankings well ahead of Trinidad and Tobago at 16 and 44 respectively and new entrants Bahamas, St Lucia and St Vincent also ranked at 21, 25 and 36 respectively,” Joseph said.
Of the 11 CARIFORUM countries ranked in the CPI, five were above the midpoint score of five points. Trinidad and Tobago scored 3.2.
“Anything below the score of five is considered as a strong perception that corruption is a problem or a challenge in that country,” Joseph said.
Joseph said despite promises made on the campaign trail by the Kamla Persad-Bissessar led People’s Partnership administration, not much has been done to tackle the issue of corruption.
“The 2011 CPI results suggest that there is a widely held perception that the issue of corruption in Trinidad and Tobago has not as yet been comprehensively addressed by the authorities,” Joseph said.
“Two major campaign promises from the 2010 General Election that could have reversed this perception are still to be addressed – those are the implementation of the recommendations of the (John) Uff Enquiry into the Construction Sector and the enacting of new public sector procurement legislation,” Joseph said.
Joseph said several incidents in the past year have also raised questions about the government’s “avowed commitment to transparency and accountability”.
“These include Minister Jack Warner’s continued presence in the administration and many allegations about improper procurement and poor governance practices at some State agencies,” Joseph said.
Warner is the Minister of Works and Infrastructure.
At a CFU special meeting on May 10 and 11 at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain, former FIFA presidential hopeful Mohamed bin Hamman allegedly offered bribes of US$40,000 each to 26 football officials from the region in exchange for votes.
Warner, who facilitated the meeting in May, subsequently resigned all his football positions after 28 years in FIFA’s high command after an investigation was launched into the bribery allegations.
“While the Administration has insisted on selectively observing the rules of natural justice in these matters it is possible that, by allowing some incumbents to remain in office while lengthy and still unresolved investigations take place, its reputation has been harmed by association,” Joseph said.
“There are other and more appropriate ways of dealing with these matters under current circumstances while adhering to the principles of natural justice,” he said.
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has been mandated to investigate a video on the website of British newspaper The Telegraph allegedly showing Warner participating in the delivery of “gifts” from bin Hamman.
Joseph advised Warner to step down until investigations are completed.
“It is difficult to have a Minister in charge of a Ministry with an enormous budget against whom there are corruption allegations. I am not saying he is guilty or innocent or anything and I agree natural justice should take place but we have a country to run and we also have to run it in a certain way and with certain standards,” Joseph said.
“I think a standard that is accepted internationally is if somebody is accused of something, they step down, clear their name and then they could come back,” he said.
Joseph said a copy of the results of the CPI and the recommendations made by the TTTI have been forwarded to the government.
Senator Nicole Dyer-Griffith, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that the Government would release a comment on the CPI results today.