News on Sunday

Rajen Bablee: “Transparency Mauritius is ready to assist Government or any institution”

Government is aiming the 66th position in the CPI of TA by 2030 with a set of measures. Rajen Bablee of Transparency Mauritius commends this laudable initiative and announces that his organization can help Government to achieve this objective. Government sets a target in the fight against corruption.

In a statement to News on Sunday, Rajen Bablee, Executive Director of Transparency Mauritius, welcomes the decision of Government to set a target in the fight against corruption in the Three Year Strategic Plan 2017/18 - 2019/20. He points out that for the 2016 Corruption Perception Index, there are three countries, namely Chile, the United Arab Emirates and Bahamas with a score of 66 and they are ranked 24th. The first in Africa is Botswana with a score of 60 and ranked 35th. Mauritius is currently 50th with a score of 54. 

The Three-Year Strategic Plan mentions that “the principles of good governance, ethics, transparency and accountability will be upheld across all public institutions”. In early 2015, Government also mentioned that it is “committed to conducting business on the principles of discipline, transparency, accountability and exemplary governance”. Though there have been some initiatives in that sense, Rajen Bablee observes that the general perception is that nepotism prevails and that there is no transparency in the appointment of the heads on institutions.

“Several scandals are undermining the mandate of the Government and if there is a will to promote good governance, one should not forget that the underlying elements of Good Governance are transparency, accountability, equitability and inclusiveness amongst others. We hope that by the end of its mandate, this government would show that it has met with its promises”, expects Rajen Bablee. Transparency Mauritius is ready to assist the Government or any institution to reach its target but, he indicates that unfortunately, up to now, there hasn’t been any formal consultation between Transparency Mauritius and Government. “This 3-year plan should not be only smoke in our eyes. I repeat: if the intention is there, Transparency Mauritius will provide its input,” assures the Executive Director of TM.

Are these measures sufficient? What must be done on top of these measures? According to Rajen Bablee, it is not really difficult to reach that target. “We must not only speak about Good Governance, ethics and integrity, we should adopt that culture. Education is an important component. But besides education and law enforcement, the Government should show its resolve by coming with a proper legislation to control the financing of political parties and politicians; powers must be given to the Electoral Supervisory Commission to investigate into the proper running of elections, namely when it comes to expenses; a Freedom of Information Act must be passed; discretionary powers given to ministers to unilaterally appoint anyone at the head or on boards of public institutions and of State owned companies should be abolished; any promise by any politician to give a job or a contract to any voter in any electoral campaign should be criminalised and likewise, any voter who tries to market its vote against an advantage, be it a promotion, a job or a contract, would be committing an offence. With those initiatives, to mention a few, it should not be an issue to see Mauritius climbing the rank,” he explains.

What is your assessment of corruption in Mauritius? “I believe that petty corruption is less in Mauritius. Public officials are more aware about corruption and generally think twice before indulging in such practice. This doesn’t mean that black sheep don’t exist. It is important to have stringent procedures so as to minimise risks. On the other hand, there is a general perception that grand corruption is prevailing. In the absence of studies on this issue, it is difficult to have a clear answer. Nepotism and traffic of influence are commonly perceived to be the great diseases of our society,” he answers.

Does he share the views of Mr Beekharry of ICAC that corruption is more far-reaching in private sector than public sector? “I understand that the Director General of the ICAC did a research in the context of his doctorate on this subject. For the time being, the focus of the enabling anti-corruption law is on the public sector although we have section 16 which mentions the corruption of an agent. Otherwise the private sector can be the corruptor. It is true to say that the general perception is that if the same rules would apply to the private sector now, we would likely come across cases of nepotism (again) or conflict of interest. On the other hand, I must say that there is more and more awareness in the private sector and many organisations are adopting voluntary initiatives, like the Integrity Pledge, to fight corruption” he states.

Government’s Strategic Plan

The principles of good governance, ethics, transparency and accountability will be upheld across all public institutions. The objective is to increase the score of Mauritius under the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of Transparency International from 54 presently to around 66 out of 100 by 2030, which is the average score of high-income countries.

 

Promotion of Efficiency in the Public Sector

  • Setting up of Youth Parliament: This will serve as a platform for the youth to voice out and discuss issues of national importance, whilst at the same time, expanding the democratic space of the nation.
  • Modernising public services: Harnessing the potential of information and communication technologies will reduce processing time and improve efficiency and quality of service delivery.
  • Corruption Prevention Reviews: Systems, procedures and practices in public bodies will be reviewed to improve quality, transparency, accountability, integrity and fairness in public service delivery.

 

Developing a Mauritius Leadership Brand:

  • Leadership skills in the public sector will be developed so as to build a culture of trust, innovation, hard work and excellence.

 

Protection of the Rights of Mauritians

  • Sensitisation Programme: Human Rights sensitization sessions will be held in Social Welfare Centres to educate the public on their rights and responsibilities as well as to instill a culture of human rights among citizens.
  • Ensuring fair treatment: Rights of citizens will be safeguarded through fair and timely resolutions of cases and adequate follow-up actions by public bodies.
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