By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
MORE Bahamians believe police officers are corrupt than any other group of people, a scientific survey commissioned last October by Transparency International and its local contact Citizen for a Better Bahamas found.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis fared better than most on the question of corruption, with Bahamians believing he and his office are less corrupt than any other institution or group of people identified in the survey, including religious leaders.
The survey, called the first of its kind in The Bahamas, was conducted by marketing and research firm Public Domain between October 4 and October 17, 2017.
One thousand Bahamians were surveyed via telephone, including people in New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands. The sample was “distributed across all populated islands in the Bahamas proportionate to population size based on available census data,” according to Lemarque Campbell, chairman of Citizens for a Better Bahamas and author of the report.
“Respondents were selected using a randomised approach from all available respondents in the household,” he said. “Further, the sample was representative of the local population by age, gender, island and social grade/income.”
The survey had a margin of error of 3.1 per cent, according to Public Domain President M’wale Rahming.
Respondents were asked: “How corrupt are different institutions and groups in society?”
Of the institutions and groups identified, 28 per cent of Bahamians said most or all police officers are corrupt; 23 per cent said the same of government officials; 21 per cent said this of members of Parliament; 20 per cent said this of tax officials; 19 per cent said this of business executives; 18 per cent said this of religious leaders; 17 per cent said this of local government councillors; 17 per cent said this of judges and magistrates; while 14 per cent said the same about the prime minister and his office.
Thirteen per cent of respondents said they have given a bribe to a police officer before; 11 per cent said they paid a bribe to receive identity documents; 11 per cent also said they paid a bribe to utility providers; 10 per cent claimed they paid a bribe to a judge or court official; seven per cent said they paid a bribe to a health worker or clinic or hospital staff while three per cent said they paid a bribe to a teacher or school official.
While the survey found more than half of respondents––52 per cent––believe it is generally acceptable to report a case of corruption that they witness, only six per cent of respondents who paid a bribe said they reported it.
“Low reporting rates of corruption is not surprising in the Bahamas, given that respondents to the survey perceived the police as the most highly corrupt public institution, along with the fact that the police (force) was also the public service with the highest bribery rates (according to the survey respondents),” Mr Campbell said.
Asked how well or badly the government is doing in fighting corruption, 65 per cent of respondents said the government is doing well; 18 per cent said the government is doing badly and 17 per cent said they don’t know.
Mr Campbell noted that during the first five months of the Minnis administration, several former ministers in the Christie administration were charged for alleged bribery and there have also been investigations into alleged fraud at various government departments and entities, suggesting this has affected Bahamians’ perception of how well the administration is fighting corruption.
Despite high marks for the Minnis administration’s anti-corruption agenda, 54 per cent of respondents said corruption had generally increased in the preceding year in their view. When they were asked this question, 59 per cent of respondents from Trinidad and Tobago said the same thing in that country’s survey while 68 per cent of Jamaicans did the same.
Bahamians have overwhelmingly negative beliefs about the affect of money on politics.
Forty-one per cent of Bahamians believe voters are always bribed in elections; 16 per cent believe it happens often; 29 per cent believe it sometimes happens; four per cent believe it never happens and nine per cent said they don’t know.
Similarly, 34 per cent of respondents believe rich people and businesses are always offered favours in exchange of compensation during elections; 19 per cent of people believe this often happens; 29 per cent believe it happens sometimes; 14 per cent said they don’t know and four per cent said it never happens.
Asked if financial support by companies to political parties should be banned, 43 per cent said yes; 32 per cent said no.
The government has pledged to bring legislation to amend the Public Disclosure Act to include a campaign finance component and allow for a matter to be referred to an independent prosecutor, but it is unclear when the government will fulfill the promise.
Mr Campbell, in his recommendations, said the government must “clean up the police,” “protect whistleblowers,” and “enact political campaign finance legislation.”