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Cutting political corruption

This letter was prompted in part by my column headlined “Important to tie your camel” about the need for a stronger more active and robust Public Accounts Committee and the need for greater and closer oversight of Government spending.

The following is a list of anti-corruption steps that can be implemented by the Bermuda Government to dramatically reduce political corruption.

Many of these steps have been enacted into law in other jurisdictions. For instance, see the Inspector General’s Act 1978 (USA).

1. Enact Legislation that gives the Auditor General administrative subpoena power to obtain access to the bank records, files, share registers and all other documents and data of every Government contractor and their affiliates (to better ensure there are no kickbacks to persons in power).

2. Enact legislation that requires the inclusion in every Government contract for capital projects and procurement of goods and services in excess of $10,000, a legal undertaking by the contractor to provide the Auditor General with access to all of the bank records, files, share registers and all other documents and data of the contractor and its affiliates (to better ensure there are no kickbacks to persons in power);

3. Enact legislation that requires each contractor tendering on a Government contract in excess of $10,000 to disclose, by way of sworn affidavit posted on the Government’s website, each of its directors, officers and direct and indirect beneficial shareholders and those of its affiliates (so that the people of Bermuda will be able to see who is benefitting from Government contracts);

4. Enact legislation that requires each member of the House of Assembly and the Senate to disclose, by way of sworn affidavit posted on the Government’s website, all of his or her direct and indirect beneficial interests in any company, trust, partnership or business along with an undertaking to update such disclosure within seven days of any change in such beneficial interests (to ensure any potential conflicts of interests of elected officials are fully disclosed to the public);

5. Enact legislation that requires, in respect of every Government capital project in excess of $10,000, that the Ministry of Finance place on the Government’s website disclosure of every change order in excess of $3,000 along with a written reason why the change order was made, why it was not included in the original specifications, whether the change order was put out for separate tender, the name of the Government employee or elected official who approved the change order, and the amount of increased costs resulting from the change order (so the Bermuda public can see whether their money is being spent efficiently); and

6. Enact legislation that requires the Ministry of Finance to place on the Government’s website a copy of every personal expense report and every back up receipt submitted by an elected official on his or her personal Government expense account (so the people of Bermuda can see the extent to which elected officials are spending taxpayers’ money on personal items).

KEVIN COMEAU

December 5, 2014

Wise words: the Arabian proverb - Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel - suggests it is not enough to put your faith in others, be they God, other people, governments or institutions, without some action on your part