Thursday, 14 March 2013 02:30
By Donyelle Bird-Browne-Editor
The definition of economic or political corruption is the abuse of public office for personal gain. For the sake of this article, I would prefer the use of: for national gain.
As nations like ours increase trade relationships, seek foreign investment and become more involved in global citizenship, the strength of our institutions is put to the test. The quality of our financial and government departments can decide if we benefit from assuming citizenship in the global community.
Does global citizenship benefit us in such a significant way that it is worth supporting the selling of our soul (birthright)?
The question remains, as it always does, how will these benefits be distributed throughout our society? The economic gain from a movement to become an entrenched global citizen can only be beneficial to our small nation if our financial and government departments are strong. And by strong I mean functioning as an institution carrying such a magnitude of responsibility to citizens of a nation should be functioning. If these institutions perform, the economic benefit from global citizenship can be significant and positive.
However, if they are weak, and I point no fingers, the majority of said benefits gets lost in the quagmire of negativity known as corruption.
The problem of corruption is not unique to our small nation. It is in fact a problem particularly specific to globalized economies. Larger countries have the resources to pinpoint, investigate and “resolve” issues related to corruption. Small islands like ours unfortunately struggle with transparency and accountability.
No matter which side of the aisle you choose to sit on, common sense tells you that the potential benefits from becoming a global citizen are not enough. Common sense tells you that corruption erodes any, and in some cases, all the potential benefits of globalization.
Do you really think that a would-be investor, after checking the corruption level ranking for a country, would risk the cost of doing business in that country? Corruption damages any chance of discussion on legitimate foreign investment and capital. It casts a cloud of doubt and wariness very difficult to disperse.
Foreign aid, something that small island states have no choice but to solicit, can be denied if it becomes known that significant amounts of that aid have been used in the business of patronage politics. Hmmmm. “Patronage politics” my fellow Antiguans. Now that’s a whole different article.
The fact remains that shaky and weak government and financial departments provide fertile ground in which corruption can take root and grow exponentially. This corruption can take many forms, with the end result being the nullification of any would-be benefits of global citizenship.
There are, of course, those that try to validate the discussion that corruption in small countries creates a trickledown effect and improves income disbursement. Take for example, and very hypothetically, traffic policemen.
As we all know, they earn miniscule salaries that are impossible to survive on alone, much less support a family. Therefore, perhaps a small bribe here and there when issuing tickets may be beneficial to some because it helps them to live. The flaws of this argument however are clearly evident.
These “little” bribes support a culture of corruption that in turn supports crimes like questionable million dollar private auctions, and in some cases, compulsory acquisitions of properties which in turn make the rich and powerful richer and more powerful, and the poor poorer and poorer.
The plan, in fact, is always to make governments richer, but it never really quite works out that way, does it? We the people generally end up with the very short end of a very gnarly stick.
Ssshhhh....can you hear that? The tax man cometh. Again.