Corruption in the Government agencies and the private sector in places like Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and various other regions have for long been overshadowed by the overt impression .
Countries in the Caribbean Island are extremely popular as tourist destinations but if the ground realities don't change, that long-standing reputation could take a severe hit.
Corruption in the Government agencies and the private sector in places like Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and various other regions have for long been overshadowed by the overt impression which reflects a society representing 'song and dance' and clear blue ocean with beautiful beaches. That is all very well. But underneath this facade lies the ugly face of bribery, sleaze, fraud and all kinds of vice.
Governments are often accused of running a corrupt administration in which officials accept money in return for political favours. Abuse of power has become second nature. There have been some active voices in the political corridors which have spoken against the existing malpractices.
Honourable Asot Michael, Member of the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda for St Peter and a member of the Antigua Labour Party, is a staunch advocate for anti-corruption measures and believes the scourge of corruption can only be tackled through collective partnership.
"We need to effectively regulate the financing of political parties, including donations and campaign expenditure. We must seek to bring together the main thinkers and political and civic actors from across the region and the world in "an intellectually rich and open environment" to discuss the values and ethical philosophies that are likely to impact the policies and practices of public institutions at all levels," Asot Michael recently said in a public symposium in Antigua.
Politicians and civil servants, for once, need to be probed in public; the inquiry should be broadcast on television for the sake of transparency.
For a citizenry more used to official secrecy, watching a parade of ex-ministers, a former prime minister and several top bureaucrats being grilled is in itself a confidence-building measure.
Constitutional checks on those in power are weak. There needs to be stirrings of change and anti-corruption legislation must be brought into place and the existing ones need to be reworked to make it more credible and authoritative.
Honourable Asot Michael further pointed out, "It is one thing to change the rules, or to "name and shame" culprits, quite another, to bring about change itself. To do that, execution of law and enactment of policies are imperative. Checks and balances need to be in place."
Concrete measures need to be taken to ensure that country earns the reputation for being an excellent investment site for international businesses.
People, who champion the cause of anti-corruption, need to be encouraged to take the fight to the next level and for that to happen, more and more activists from the civil society and Government bodies need to join hands.