What is Corruption?
Corruption is the abuse of public resources to enrich or give unfair advantage to individuals, their family or their friends. Corruption Watch is concerned with any such abuse of power or position by anyone at any level of government or in business.
Examples of public resources:
•Money, goods, vehicles, buildings and any other resources that belong to the government
•Pension funds and medical aid funds
•Trade union money and resources
•Donations to charities
Common forms of corruption:
•A business or individual pays a bribe to a government official in order to be given a government contract or licence
•The use of government-owned resources, such as motor vehicles, for private purposes
•A government official takes advantage of his or her position to favour a family member or business associate for a job or tender contract. This is commonly called nepotism
•A police officer solicits a bribe or a member of the public offers one in order to escape lawful punishment
•A government official received kickbacks for award of contracts and grants
Who does it affect?
Corruption affects us all. It threatens sustainable economic development, ethical values and justice; it destabilises our society and endangers the rule of law. It undermines the institutions and values of our young democracy.
But because public policies and public resources are largely beneficial to poor people, it is they who suffer the harmful effects of corruption most grievously.
To be dependent on the government for housing, healthcare, education, security and welfare, makes the poor most vulnerable to corruption since it stalls service delivery. Delays in infrastructure development, poor building quality and layers of additional costs are all consequences of corruption.
Many acts of corruption deprive our citizens of their constitutional and their human rights.
How to Stop it
The first step in bringing an end to corruption starts with you: obey the law and encourage those around you to do the same.
Corruption Watch is encouraging all Trinidadians and Tobagonians to sign a pledge to be a responsible and honest citizen, and to undertake to:
“neither pay nor take bribes; obey the law and encourage others around me to obey the law and to treat public resources respectfully; neither abuse any public money entrusted to my care, nor any position I hold as a public servant; act with integrity in all my dealings with government; and always remember that public resources are intended for the benefit of the public, not for private gain.”
If you have suspicions that some form of corruption is taking place, you should report it; not only to us, but to an appropriate authority.
In fact, people in positions of authority are required by law to report corrupt activities involving more than R100 000, or they are guilty of a crime.
There are also a number of crime-fighting organisations and non-governmental organisations you can turn to with your suspicions, like the police or Integrity Commission or the Financial Intelligence Unit.
However, it is not just up to individuals to take action. Companies too can help combat corruption.All businesses should develop anti-corruption policies and guidelines.Education and training for all employees about corruption and how to avoid or report it should be part of any induction programme.
Businesses can establish whistle-blowing hotlines and internal audit procedures. They should ensure all employees, and particularly any involved in tender and procurement programmes, are aware of the law and their roles and responsibilities to obey it (and possible criminal charges if they do not).
Companies may also want to extend their policies and practices to service providers and other business partners.
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