Barbados: Resist corruption, private sector told

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(Barbados Today) – President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Trisha Tannis has acknowledged the role of the private sector in the stain of the money laundering scandal involving former Government Minister Donville Inniss and she has cautioned her fellow private sector colleagues not to encourage any form of corruption.

Trisha Tannis, President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI)

“As members of the private sector it would be remiss of us not to acknowledge the role that the private sector played in that affair,” she said, adding that corruption “is a coin with two sides” and therefore for there to be a receiver of proceeds there would be a giver.

“Corruption must be eliminated on both sides if it is to be eradicated at all,” she added.

Inniss was found guilty in a New York court on money laundering charges linked to the acceptance of money from local insurance firm Insurance Corporation of Barbados and paid into an account in New York.

Furthermore, Tannis has called for the urgent proclamation of the Prevention of Corruption Bill and the Integrity in Public Life Bill.

She made the direct plea to Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Attorney General Dale Marshall on Wednesday during the BCCI’s January luncheon at the Hilton Resort.

Outlining several areas where she said there was need for urgent action on the part of Government, Tannis said business facilitation remained the major sore point.

Stating that the matter of business facilitation went beyond the registration of businesses, Tannis said it also called for improvement in the speed of planning approvals, flexibility of labour legislation, increased productivity, digitization of Government processes and adequate legislation for new and emerging sectors including those in the fintech space and renewable energy.

“Another aspect of the business facilitation infrastructure is the eradication of corruption. Recent events involving a high profile public figure serve only to highlight the inescapable reality that the misguided action of a few can redound to the collective shame and embarrassment of us all,” said Tannis.

“Level playing fields, fair play and transparent competition are critical to promote sustainable growth and development. It is within this context that the Chamber notes regretfully that the Integrity in Public Life 2108 nor the Prevention of Corruption Bill 2019 has been proclaimed,” she said.

Making a reference to the case in which former Minister of Commerce and Industry Donville Inniss was found guilty on money laundering charges, Tannis said the international community would be watching closely to see the country’s reaction to the verdict.

She said the implementation of the two pieces of legislations would “resonate positively” in that regard.

“We continue to call for the urgent proclamation of the legislation in order to send the strongest possible message to the local and international community regarding the gravity with which we view the stain of corruption,” she said.

The business official also pointed out that the BCCI was “gravely concerned” about the “unprecedented brazen acts of aggravated crime in the country”.

“Our macro economic gains can easily be eroded if due care is not taken to identify the root cause of this upsurge, and the appropriate response mechanisms that are needed to uproot the scourge, as our reputation as a safe and peaceful jurisdiction is now under threat by the reckless actions of a few,” Tannis warned.

She said the BCCI would continue to offer its support where possible, adding that a national dialogue was needed to restore national values.

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