Bahamas flag

The Bahamas’ score on the 2020 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) dropped one notch, which reveals the country’s score has declined on the index since 2018.

The Bahamas’ score moved from 66 to 65 in 2018, to 64 in 2019, to 63 on the 2020 index.

This country’s CPI score remains one of the best in the Caribbean, second only to Barbados, which has a score of 64 and a rank of 29.

Executive Director of the Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) Matt Aubry old Guardian Business yesterday that the tool to improve The Bahamas’ CPI score has been tabled in Parliament since 2017, but not passed.

He said the Integrity Commission Bill, which is going on four years with no movement toward legislation; and the Ombudsman Bill, could both improve the country’s standing on the index.

“The longer we let that persist, the more modern measurements reflect that you need to have these things in place,” said Aubry.

“The means of our ability to move forward is in our hands. The bill was tabled by Parliament in 2017. If The Bahamas wants to be able to move forward it’s critical.”

He added that corruption tends to spike after major disasters and he and Transparency International – an international non-governmental organization that seeks to combat global corruption – both maintain that as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins that governments put things in place to minimize any possible perception of corruption in the vaccination process.

“Corruption is one of the key barriers to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the COVID-19 pandemic is making those goals even more difficult to attain,” Transparency International states.

“The long-term effects of corruption on healthcare systems remind us that corruption often intensifies the effects of a crisis. Corruption is prevalent across the COVID-19 response, from bribery for COVID-19 tests, treatment and other health services, to public procurement of medical supplies and overall emergency preparedness.”

Aubry added, “Our conditions that we’re now moving towards are rife for people to take advantage of and vaccines are going to be another level of equity, just like COVID-19 results. You hear the random story of people selling negative COVID-19 results. You’ve now entered in a new level of equity and that’s something that we need to work against.

“Having ourselves prepared proactively in advance is going to be a better scenario than having to start to see these incidences of things that may or may not happen. But if they do, they are very hard to unbundle, both in the practicality and in the perception.

“There’s a direct impact financially, there’s a social impact in terms of trusting government and the rollout of something like a vaccine is entirely dependent upon people’s trust and ability to feel like the system will meet their needs versus if they have to subvert it.”

On the index, The Bahamas ranks 30th out of 180 countries. The United States sits at number 25.

The Bahamas had a high score of 71 in 2012 and remained at that level before declining to 66 in 2016. The country has declined on the index ever since.

Transparency International’s score system puts the worst offenders at zero and the countries with the least corruption toward 100.

No country broke through 90 in 2020.

According to Transparency International, this latest CPI “paints a grim picture of the state of corruption worldwide”.

“While most countries have made little to no progress in tackling corruption in nearly a decade, more than two-thirds of countries score below 50,” the organization stated.

“Our analysis shows corruption not only undermines the global health response to COVID-19, but contributes to a continuing crisis of democracy.”