In the light of the many cases of alleged fraud and corruption, both in the public and private sectors and presently reported by the press, Transparency Mauritius notes a marked deterioration of the confidence climate within the population. The numerous investigations that are being conducted by the Economic Crime Office demonstrate the urgent necessity to ensure more transparency at the level of administrative procedures and important transactions. These, because of the grey areas that are associated with them, help to create and maintain suspicions, justified or not, in relation to decisions and measures taken by people in position of responsibility.
Once more, Transparency Mauritius calls upon the highest authorities of the country for the legal and judicial framework of the fight against corruption to be reinforced as soon as possible. It is regrettable that the Public Procurement Transparency and Equity Act 1999, which was adopted by the National Assembly, has now been waiting for more than a year to be proclaimed and is, consequently, not yet applicable as a law. For the application of this law to be eventually more effective, Mr René Noël, President de Transparency Mauritius, said on several occasions that the providers of goods and services should be compelled to specify in their tenders that they did not make use and will not make use of any form of corruption or collusion. This declaration on one's honour already exists in several countries and permits, in the event of fault, the application of sanctions envisaged for this purpose. It is also essential that any modification to a contract be referred to the institution responsible for the adjudication of the contract when the modification exceeds a certain threshold. This procedure would then prevent abuses on the level of modifications, which exaggeratedly enlarge certain contracts without it being necessary to obtain approval from the adjudicating institution. Lastly, it is necessary to envisage the publication of the choices and the reasons having justified the adjudication of contracts in order to ensure more transparency. It would be an extremely useful tool that would allow civil society to know the tenders, to know the reasons, which justified the decision to allocate a given contract to a bidder rather than to another. The public could have access to any official information related to the contract.
In addition, the Anti-Corruption Tribunal was dismantled in November 1998 since it had been unable to fulfil its role. The promise was then made that an Anti-Corruption Commission equipped with adequate powers would quickly replace it. 20 months have since elapsed and the population of Mauritius is still waiting for the setting up of this Anti-Corruption Commission. In the meantime, anyone who is victim of corruption does not know how and where to complain. It has been said that the Public Integrity Bill, whose "imminent" introduction at the National Assembly has many times been announced, is to make corruption more difficult and promote integrity within Mauritius.
"We know that the general elections are close and we ask Government to submit the Public Integrity Bill to the National Assembly before its dissolution. The adoption of such a law by all parliamentarians would be a clear sign of the determination of all our representatives, without any distinction whatsoever, that they wish to bring corruption to an end", underlines Mr. René Noël. The fight against corruption is only possible if there is a real will to get rid of this plague in the public and private sectors as well as at the various levels of the hierarchy. During the workshop organised by Transparency Mauritius in February 1998, all the participants, including representatives of the various sectors of the country, had proposed an action plan in order to successfully combat corruption. In order to fight corruption and punish corrupters and corrupt individuals and to cure, in the long run, this evil as well as its misdeeds, the unanimously approved action plan stressed upon the urgent necessity to get on with the following principal points:
- To develop parliamentary practices and procedures which ensure perfect transparency and control, in an effective way, the executive and administrative public authorities;
- To ensure that decision makers, within Government, in the Opposition and the Private Sector, be really seen as role models and show, at all times, their personal commitment to maintain on the highest level the conduct of public affairs and the economic life of the country;
- To carry out free, fair and responsible election campaigns that reflect the values of a new and participative society whose construction is required by all Mauritians, and to adopt the institutional measures which Government promised to set up at the beginning of its mandate with the aim of fighting and eliminating corruption;
- To make public contributions to the funds of political parties, to declare them to the Electoral Supervisory Commission and to adopt the necessary institutional measures to this end;
- To reinforce a campaign in order to sensitise further the public in order to enlist the support of the Mauritian population in the sustained combat against corruption in all spheres of society;
- To support all those whose public office is to ensure the application of laws against corruption, in order to make sure that the authority of the law is applied firmly, impartially and without exception;
- To ensure that public acquisitions are made in an impartial and open manner in order to obtain, in the public interest, the best quality-price ratio in the absence of corruption, by adopting suitable measures to punish the corrupter and the corrupt individual;
- To revise existing laws and practices in order to ensure that they reflect the practices best adapted to the promotion of integrity and the elimination of corruption;
- To offer an environment which makes it possible for the press and the media to operate in the interest of the country by making sure that they are free, balanced and non-partisan;
- To encourage a coalition of interests opposed to corruption and to develop a national action plan to control it; and
- To respect the independence of the judiciary and of institutions engaged in the administration of justice and to support the protection of human rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.
Moreover, Transparency Mauritius is anxious of the negative consequences, which can have the many cases of alleged corruption on the image and reputation of Mauritius abroad, at both regional and international levels. Mauritius cannot take such a risk in an increasingly difficult economic context determined by a highly competitive global environment. It is not enough any more, nowadays, to say that one is against corruption and in favour of integrity. Concrete actions are needed to prove one's determination.
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