An opportunity to reset — Part II
Ethical behaviour and combating corruptionWednesday, February 17, 2021
BY WENDELL RAMOUTAR
Trinidad and Tobago has had low scores in Transparency International's (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) and the World Bank's Control of Corruption Index (CC) for several years, scoring below the global average.
Anti-corruption efforts in Trinidad and Tobago have been at the macro level in terms of legislation and oversight bodies and best practice measures have been instituted in the public sector.
Despite these developments, perceptions of corruption continue and while there are no reliable measures of actual corruption, there is anecdotal evidence that it is problematic.
Combating corruption is important because it undermines development and affects the most vulnerable in society, as articulated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Transparency International advises that corruption erodes trust, weakens democracy, hampers economic development and further exacerbates inequality, poverty, social division and the environmental crisis.
There is no silver bullet to solve corruption problems in Trinidad and Tobago, or any other Caribbean country for that matter. Change needs to come from the top. Leadership is a key driver. By this, I mean leadership at all levels of society — communities, schools, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), corporations and government. Leadership in organisations is manifested through their governance. It starts from the “tone at the top”.
Strong leadership that has a firm commitment to ethical behaviour is pivotal in the fight against corruption. Ongoing research to understand its dynamics is also critical to inform anti-corruption activities. If a better understanding of corruption is obtained, it will set the stage for the design of focused and pragmatic solutions to reduce its incidence.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
As the world matures, what we are seeing in recent times is a sometimes painful recognition of the sins of the past. For example, the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements'. The list of transgressions is long and includes slavery, colonisation, subjugation of women, racial and gender inequality and inequity, biases due to race, gender, religion and sexual orientation.
We all have a responsibility to make the world a better place and not to repeat errors of the past. I am pleased to see several local corporate entities placing diversity and inclusion high on their agendas.
ACCA is one of those global organisations that has made inclusion a priority, as not only a part of its Quarter 4 brand theme, but also in terms of its policies and organisational strategy. This needs to continue unabated and gain the momentum to transcend more boundaries and filter across our society. We owe it to future generations the benefits of a fair, just and equitable society.
At PwC we believe that if we are to live up to our purpose to build trust in society and solve important problems, we must work to support equity of opportunity at all levels. Not only is our diversity and inclusion work an extension of our values, there is ample evidence that shows a diverse workforce and deliberate inclusion efforts drive better outcomes, which elevates business growth and the broader economic development of our society that benefits everyone.
I conclude the second article in this two-part series linked to the UN's 17 SDGs:
1) no poverty;
2) zero hunger;
3) good health and well-being;
4) quality education;
5) gender equality;
6) clean water and sanitation;
7) affordable and clean energy;
8) decent work and economic growth;
9) industry, innovation and infrastructure;
10) reduced inequalities;
11) sustainable cities and communities;
12) responsible consumption and production;
13) climate action;
14) life below water;
15) life on land, peace;
16) justice and strong institutions and
17) partnerships for the goals.
The COVID-19 crisis created a shared global experience of an overwhelming event. If this results in a greater solidarity and sense of purpose, our collective future becomes more promising. Led by governments as well as public-private consortia, these SDGs must remain at the forefront of local and regional agendas to ensure peace and prosperity for the human race and the planet, now and in the future. It would be unfortunate if we did not take advantage of the opportunity in front of us.
Wendell Ramoutar, ACCA international assembly representative for Trinidad and Tobago, partner, PwC Trinidad and Tobago and PwC Guyana.
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