By Rashad Rolle
Tribune Staff Reporter
BEFORE writing its anti-corruption report on The Bahamas, representatives of the Organization of American States Anti-Corruption Mechanism are in The Bahamas this week assessing the government’s efforts to comply with the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.
The representatives will meet government officials as well as members of civil society, academic and professional organisations during their visit.
Specifically, they are seeking to supplement information they received from the government in response to a questionnaire. The government was asked about the progress it has made towards complying with certain anti-corruption principles.
In a statement yesterday, the OAS said: “The visit is expected to provide the MESICIC Committee of Experts with complete and objective information for the preparation of a report, which will review the country’s legal framework, its compliance with the provisions of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption that are to be reviewed in this fifth round, and follow-up of the recommendations issued to The Bahamas in the final report of the second round of review. It is also expected to indicate challenges by The Bahamas in implementing the provisions of the convention and its technical cooperation needs.”
Among the recommendations the OAS made to the government concerns public service hiring. In its questionnaire, the OAS asked the government whether progress has been made in adopting hiring procedures based on the principle of merit, the introduction of parametres on the use of “exceptions,” the correct advertisement of job vacancies and training of those responsible for the selection process.
In one of its responses, the government pointed to the Department of Public Services’ manual, “The Bahamas Government Human Resources Policies,” and a provision therein that mandates people be hired only if they meet minimum requirements for a post. Critics have long bemoaned political influence in public service hiring processes and the lack of oversight and reporting mechanisms concerning this.
The OAS also recommended that the government introduce a single legal framework for procuring goods and services, ensure biddings are advertised and that an administering authority is established to audit the government’s procurement system. To this, the government pointed to a Public Procurement Bill, not yet tabled, that aims to standardise procurement processes across the government.
The OAS has also recommended that the government expand mechanisms for reporting corruption and for reporting threats or reprisals against whistleblowers.