Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks Trinidad and Tobago in position 91 out of 183 countries, with a score of 3.2 out of 10. In 2010 Trinidad and Tobago was ranked in position 73 out of 178 countries, with a score of 3.6. The country ranked first in 2011 with the highest score is New Zealand with a score of 9.5 and the lowest ranked country is Somalia with a score of 1.0.
The CPI is a measure of perceptions of public sector corruption. It is a survey of surveys undertaken by international institutions ranking various countries based on the perceptions held by senior resident business leaders and non- resident analysts. It should be noted that the CPI is a perceptions test and does not aim to capture the reality of corruption on the ground. However, it is known that perceptions play a role in shaping and representing what may be in reality. The CPI uses a simple form of indexing to arrive at a score ranging between 0, perceived to be the most corrupt, and 10, perceived to be the least corrupt. The surveys used to prepare the 2011 ranking covered the period from December 2009 to September 2011. In the case of Trinidad and Tobago, five reports from four institutions were used.
Trinidad and Tobago was included in the Index for the first time in 2001 and scored 5.3 out of 10 and was ranked 31 of 91 countries. (A country perceived as free of corruption would score 10.) That ranking declined every subsequent year reaching a low of 79 in 2006 and 2007. Though there has been some fluctuation, it has now reached its lowest level with a ranking of 91 of 183 countries.
In 2008, Trinidad and Tobago’s score rose from 3.4 to 3.6 where it remained for three consecutive years (2008- 2010) before declining in 2011 to 3.2, a level that it last reached in 2006.
Trinidad and Tobago’s CPI Score from 2001-2011
|Year||CPI Score||Survey used||Confidence range||Country Rank||No. of countries|
The current index places Trinidad and Tobago behind Jamaica which it previously outranked. Barbados and Dominica maintained their rankings well ahead of Trinidad and Tobago at 16 and 44 respectively and, new entrants, Bahamas, St. Lucia and St. Vincent also ranked well at 21, 25 and 36 respectively. Of the eleven CARIFORUM Countries ranked, five were above the midpoint score of 5 points.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Caribbean neighbors were ranked as follows:
|Trinidad and Tobago||91||3.2||73||3.6|
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. Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) notes that two major campaign promises from the 2010 General Elections, that could have reversed this perception, are still to be addressed: the implementation of the recommendations of the Uff Enquiry into the Construction Sector and the enacting of new public sector procurement legislation. Several events in the past year have also created the opportunity to raise questions about the current Administration’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. 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. There are other and more appropriate ways of dealing with these matters under current circumstances while adhering to the principles of natural justice.
Overhanging all of this are the disclosures arising from the Colman Commission of Enquiry into CL Financial/CLICO and HCU that involve serious allegations that impropriety in corporate governance has resulted in financial distress for thousands of people and a negative impact on the public coffers that has contributed to a reversal of the fortunes of the country in a very short time.
In this scenario, the message is clear, transparency and accountability are fundamental in dealing with corruption and the Administration’s anti-corruption initiatives do not appear to have been sufficient to reverse the widely held perception they inherited that corruption was out of hand. More needs to be done and it needs to be done quickly if we are to avoid a complete collapse of confidence in our state institutions.
TTTI is concerned that the perception of corruption in Trinidad and Tobago has grown worse. We believe that it is the responsibility of our political leadership to take the steps that can reverse that trend in the short and long run. Therefore, TTTI calls on the Administration, as a start, to urgently do the following:
- Implement fully the recommendations of the Uff Commission of Enquiry into the Construction Sector. TTTI has a special role to play in that exercise and renews its offer to assist Government and its agencies.
- Enact Public Sector Procurement Reform Legislation incorporating the ideas advanced by the JCC, The Chamber of Commerce, TTMA and TTTI.
- Enact whistleblower legislation to cover both the public and private sectors.
- Enact legislation to regulate political party financing and election campaign financing.
- Make legislative changes to the Integrity in Public Life Act to improve the efficiency of the Integrity Commission and provide the Commission with greater financial resources.
- Demonstrate greater transparency in all its dealings. As a start, publish the reports on the enquiries conducted under the previous Administration e.g. Piarco Airport Enquiry, the Caroni Bridge Collapse Enquiry etc.
The worsening perception of the level of corruption in Trinidad and Tobago so soon after the last General Elections is a strong indicator that this matter is beyond the control of our politicians only and has to be addressed by the national community. If we want change, TTTI also urges citizens to examine and improve on their civic practices starting with avoiding the infractions of the law that might seem petty but, nonetheless, contribute to a climate of laxity that allows corruption to exist and prosper. Breaking traffic rules, taking or having what does not belong to us and other forms of dishonesty are all starting points on the road to corruption. Petty corruption is the breeding ground for grand corruption that can severely harm a country.
Corporate Trinidad and Tobago can play a role in combating corruption by, among other things, adopting codes of business ethics to provide guidance to employees in the avoidance of corrupt practices. TTTI would welcome support and collaboration from corporations in carrying out research to establish the nature and form of corruption, its causes and remedies and to seek to match the perception of corruption with the reality on the ground.
We are all in this together and together we have to find a way to take us from the darkness back into the light.
For any press enquiries please contact
Mr Dion Abdool
T: +1-868-663-2322 or -6377