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PM to go on global anti-corruption and investment tour

by January 19, 2018 General

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis will lead an official delegation of private and public sector individuals to Singapore to guide the government in reforming The Bahamas’ economy, public sector and anti-corruption regime, among other things.

Minnis made the announcement at Bahamas Business Outlook at Baha Mar yesterday morning.

He said he intends to request an official visit to Singapore, but did not provide a timeline.

The prime minister said he also plans to undertake several investment promotion trips abroad, including to Canada, the United States, Europe, East Asia and South America.

“The Bahamas must look to other jurisdictions and countries as we pursue the depth and breadth of reform, and modernization that will help our economy to grow and to flourish,” Minnis said.

“Last year, I met with officials from Singapore who have offered to provide advice and ideas for the reform, and improved efficiency and effectiveness of our public sector.

“To enhance our cooperation with the government of Singapore, it is my intention to request an official visit to Singapore along with a delegation of individuals from the public and private sector.

“The purpose of the visit is to seek formal cooperation and assistance from the government of Singapore in areas such as public sector training and reform, economic development, tackling official corruption and the enhancement of e-Government and helping to make The Bahamas a more advanced, digital-based economy.”

Minnis said a former minister of tourism, who often addressed Business Outlook events, said that “to create the best policies and programs possible, a country should look to the best models in the world”.

On the corruption front, the government has tabled the Integrity Commission Bill 2017, which would repeal the Public Disclosure Act, and establish a comprehensive anti-corruption body and legislate a code of conduct for people in public life.

The government tabled the bill in October 2017.

The bill details acts of corruption, including the behavior of public officials in awarding contracts, soliciting or accepting any personal benefit or providing an advantage for another person by doing an act or omitting to do an act in the performance of his or her functions as a public official.

The opposition has said enforcement of certain subjective provisions would be problematic.

Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis called on the government to look at the bill again carefully.

The bill would legislate a code of conduct for ministers, other parliamentarians, heads of public commissions and statutory boards and senior officials in public corporations.

A person convicted of an act of corruption could be fined up to $20,000, face up to five years in prison or both.

Under the bill, travel breaches by ministers would become criminal acts.

Additionally, the bill would require ministers to publish at least once per year the details of all trips costing more than $500, in addition to the total annual cost of travel by the minister and those who accompanied him or her for “public scrutiny”.

To aid in transparency, public officers would be required to report gifts valued more than $1,000 to the Integrity Commission.