THE EDITOR: According to the 2020-2023 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Denmark is the least corrupt country in the world, and Somalia is the most corrupt. Trinidad falls under the 50-percentile midpoint with a score of 43 (100 means little or no corruption and 0 for the most). Somalia scored 11, the lowest of the 180 countries on the index.
Somalia’s low score is caused by graft. As understood in American English, graft is a form of political corruption defined as the evil use of a politician’s authority for personal gain. “Political graft occurs when funds intended for public projects are intentionally misdirected to maximise the benefits to private interests.”
Beginning in 2012, the government of Somalia undertook a series of reforms to eliminate corruption. It established the Federal Government of Somalia and formed a joint financial management board.
“In 2013, the Somali federal government announced that it had launched a new public finance management policy (PFMP) to render more transparent, accurate and timely its public sector financial system and to strengthen the delivery capacity of the government’s financial sector.
“A parliamentary finance committee was also established in 2014 to oversee all withdrawal transactions from the Central Bank. Additionally, a Public Procurement, Concessions and Disposal Act was passed, and the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) was established to audit all government institutions. The government also began utilising a free asset recovery system supported by the UNODC and World Bank, and it concurrently launched an anti-graft public awareness campaign” – Wikipedia.org.
Despite all the safeguards against corruption over the last ten years, Somalia remains the most corrupt nation on Earth, primarily because of the government’s inability, ineptness, or unwillingness to control where the money goes. Moreover, because billions of dollars donated from international sources to assist Somalians remain accounted for, is it any wonder that the wealthiest person in Somalia is the CEO billionaire of Dahabshiil, an international funds transfer company?
It is significant to note that the CPI score is not based on citizens’ experience, tax fraud, illicit financial flows, enablers of corruption such as lawyers and accountants, money laundering, or private sector corruption.
While the administration may shrug off the CPI rating as being a “perception” and not scientifically accurate, “Each country’s score is a combination of at least three data sources drawn from 13 different corruption surveys and assessments. These data sources are collected by a variety of reputable institutions, including the World Bank and the World Economic Forum” – transparency.org.
Moreover, the score may vary from administration to administration as governments change. Therefore, a single-digit CPI score change from year to year is insignificant overall. The most significant movement in the years measured in TT was from 35 in 2016 to 41 in 2017.
Although TT has tried to eliminate corruption over the years with the reformation of the public sector in 2012 and existential anti-corruption strategies like the Integrity in Public Life Act, the Integrity Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Police Complaints Authority, the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau, the Fraud Squad, and the Director of Public Prosecutions (ohchr.org), nothing done has moved our CPI score in a meaningful way.
What can a nation with a low CPI score do to change its rating positively when all the anti-corruption systems fail, as evidenced in Somalia and TT? Will a change of government make a difference, or will we also have to eliminate these inept institutions or, at the very least, their boards?
Since we became an independent nation, all governments have put their people in critical positions. Changing the government in the next general election could mean saving billions of dollars annually and a paradigm shift if we employ professionals in state organisations instead of friends and cronies. Since nothing else has had any impact, what do we have to lose?