PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Tuesday March 1, 2016 – There’s a need for better collaboration between integrity commissions and anti-corruption agencies to eradicate corruption in the Caribbean, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Deodat Maharaj says.
He was speaking at the start of the 2nd Commonwealth Regional Meeting for Heads of Integrity Commissions and Anti-corruption Bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean. The Forum for regional integrity commissions, anti-corruption agencies, global experts and other stakeholders, began yesterday in Trinidad and Tobago and will run until Friday.
According to the World Economic Forum, corruption is estimated to cost more than five per cent of global GDP, or US$2.6 trillion, with more than US$1 trillion paid in bribes every year.
“Caribbean countries are already facing economic challenges such as unsustainable levels of debt and vulnerabilities due to climate change. They simply cannot afford to fall victim to corruption,” said Maharaj. “When those in positions of power abuse public or private office for personal gain, it robs our citizens of important resources, such as access to healthcare, a good education and the infrastructure required for successful entrepreneurship.”
“We are calling on governments to demonstrate that they are ready to make a stand and stamp out this injustice. Our aim over the next three days is to work with integrity commissions and anti-corruption agencies to agree on viable and effective solutions,” he added.
Commonwealth Secretariat anti-corruption expert, Roger Koranteng, said “rooting out” systemic corruption at both the national and international levels, one of the mandates of the 2005 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, remains a priority for the Commonwealth Secretariat.
“Over the course of the next few days we will be working with our regional partners to agree on sound and tailored strategies and a range of services to fight corruption. We will be exploring options such as annual peer reviews to encourage transparency and share best practice,” he said.
The meeting was organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat in collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Integrity Commission and the Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-corruption Bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean. The body was set up at the 2015 Commonwealth meeting on anti-corruption in Grenada to create networks to improve governance and reduce corruption in the region.