Campaign finance system and public procurements process leave vulnerabilities to corruption, according to US Investment Climate Report
Resignations of 3 Cabinet ministers “under allegations of corruption” cited
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Vulnerability to corruption remains a major challenge for the Bahamian government, the latest US Investment Climate Report has noted, adding that the government has laws to combat corruption among public officials but they have been inconsistently applied.
“The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by public officials, and the government generally implemented the law effectively,” the report noted.
“However, there was limited enforcement of conflicts of interest related to government contracts and isolated reports of officials engaged in corrupt practices, including by accepting small-scale ‘bribes of convenience’.
“The political system is plagued by reports of corruption, including allegations of widespread patronage, the routine directing of contracts to political supporters and favorable treatment for wealthy or politically connected individuals.”
The report further noted: “In May 2017, the current government won the election on a platform to end corruption. Early in the administration, the government charged a number of former officials with various crimes including extortion and bribery, theft by reason of employment and defrauding the government. These cases were either dismissed, ended in acquittals or are ongoing.
“The government reported no new cases of corruption in the executive, legislative and judicial branches during 2020. Nevertheless, three Cabinet ministers resigned in the first three years of the current administration under allegations of corruption, including the deputy prime minister, the minister of financial services and the minister of youth, sports and culture.”
Pointing to campaign finance reform, the report noted that this nation’s campaign finance system remains “largely unregulated, with few safeguards against quid pro quo donations, creating a vulnerability to corruption and foreign influence”.
It further noted: “The procurement process also remains susceptible to corruption, as it contains no requirement to engage in open public tenders, although the government routinely did so.
“In February 2021, the government passed the Public Procurement Bill (2020), which reportedly overhauls current governance arrangements for government contracts to improve transparency and accountability.”