Wednesday, September 24, 2008

...The Harder We Fall

Well, the 2008 Corruption Perception Index is out, and the big news is…we dropped again! In just three years, our fall from grace has taken us from 66 to 99 to 109 in the number rankings. The optimists amongst us would point out that whereas we slid 33 points in 2007, at least we only slid 10 points this year. Well hurray for us then, Mr Optimist. I’d go for a drink to celebrate, but my celebratory liquor budget is pretty tight, and besides, I’m a little nervous that if I go out I might get jacked.

Clearly, Belize’s image out there could use a generous coating of the strongest deodorant. It really isn’t fair to blame Transparency International or the other star of the September Celebrations, Ross Kemp, for this. If your neighbor comes over to visit and then tells everyone about your filthy house, the worst you can say about her is that she’s a gossip, right? So what do we do about all this gossip? How do we clean our house so that our rankings climb back up the scale for next year?

I’d start by suggesting that this government set the pace for shutting down the negative buzz by aggressively taking matters in hand. Our current leaders should loudly and visibly shut down cronyism and arrest anyone attempting to offer bribes. Start by setting a few examples and everybody else will fall into line in a hurry. Insist that audits be carried out in a timely manner for both Central Government and the municipal authorities, and act on any irregularities that these audits uncover. ACB issued a release insisting on the municipal audits –I look forward to the results, as well as the results of the results, you get what I’m saying?

Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition could even make this into a bipartisan effort by endorsing whatever actions GOB takes, and let me push things here by using this phrase: “in a mature fashion.” The kind of things I’d love to see the Opposition support include the arrest of anyone trying to bribe a government official, including police officers. Everybody’d have to support the arrest of those accepting the bribes too, or else it just wouldn’t be fair.

Just check out the top five countries on the CPI. The thing I think they have in common is that they attempt to give their citizens a lifestyle that neither forces nor persuades them into corruption, backed up by a set of laws that really motivate people to stay on the straight and narrow path. And between you and me, I don’t think a Singapore prison is nearly as nice as Kolbe. We should learn from this.

Maybe it’d be easier just to bribe Transparency International.

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