The President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB), Andrew Brathwaite, is rejecting a suggestion made by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart that the 1929 Prevention of Corruption Act is adequate enough to deal with domestic issues of corruption.
“That Act is all of six pages, including the cover page, and a blank first page,” said Brathwaite following Stuart’s suggestion last month that there was no real need for any new anti-corruption law. However, in support of an earlier call made by former Chief Justice Sir David Simmons for a 2012 amendment to the legislation to be proclaimed by the Governor General, Brathwaite pointed to a number of late and faulty submissions by a number of state owned entities that were highlighted in the 2016 Auditor General Report.
In the absence of the amended law, he also argued that the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament remained the most powerful watchdog agency that could act on the Auditor General’s Report and expose corruption.
However, he recalled that in 2013 when the PAC began to probe into the financial affairs of the National Housing Corporation, Government had brought a bill to Parliament to repeal the Public Accounts Committee Act.
“In quick time they came up with this bill to repeal the Public Accounts Committee Act,” the ICAB president said, while acknowledging that the 2014 legislation had not been passed into law.
“But I guess it is there as a threat that it is understood that if public hearings are started, that bill would likely be passed,” he cautioned, given Government’s two seat majority in the 30-member Parliament.
However, he lamented that Barbados stands with war-torn Syria as countries which signed on to the United Nations convention on anti-corruption measures, while not proclaiming the supporting legislation.
“The 2012 Act is based on model legislation under the UN Convention Against Corruption. That is a 2003 Convention which came into force in 2005,” Brathwaite said.
“Barbados signed it since December 2003, but has not yet ratified it. And the way that we will ratify it is when the 2012 Act is proclaimed, because the Convention is a schedule to that Act. So the proclamation of the 2012 Act will bring the convention into force in Barbados,” he explained.
Brathwaite noted that the Barbados 2012 Act covers corruption preventative measures, which include declaration of assets.
“It is felt that it is more effective to try and prevent corruption before it occurs, than to try and detect it after the fact and prosecute it,” Brathwaite said, while acknowledging that this had caused a bit of consternation in Barbados, and elsewhere.