Minister of Finance Ryan Straughn said Tuesday that the Prevention of Corruption Bill now before Parliament is only the first step in a series of bills coming to tackle corruption within the private sector and public service.
Straughn acknowledged in the House of Assembly that the bill was missing some aspects that many may be calling for. But he declared the beginning framework of the bill will serve as an important foundation for future bills. He urged Barbadians to come on board to help Government tackle the issue.
He said: “This bill is just but one of the anchors of the legislative framework that would allow us to be able to deal with aspects of corruption. I know there are other pieces of legislation which the AG (Attorney General) indicated earlier would be important… the truth is this, I feel that Barbadians if you know that you have participated or witness corruption, you should come forward.
“Everyone wants to be in the corner and talk about it, but when the time comes to stand up and put your hand on the Bible or the Koran or whatever you choose to swear to, people simply are suddenly afraid of coming forward and performing their civic duty.”
Straughn also added that it was important for the new bill to tackle the court processes for when corruption allegations arise, as it was in his opinion an important step in gaining public confidence when citizens can visually see these cases being brought forth and tried in a timely manner.
“When a case actually reaches a threshold where it can go to court, it is now how long does it take for people to feel that justice,” the Minister in the Minstry of Finance said. “I know that with the trial for the former member of St James South, a lot of people were watching not just the efficiency for lack of a better term, but people were seemingly impressed with the short space of time within which the case was brought and heard.
“This [bill] now gives us the framework to be able to do some of that, and I hope some of the reforms will ensure that once a credible case is brought for anybody, that it can get through the court system in a reasonable time so that people can see and feel justice is served.” (SB)