Private sector links perceived palm-greasing to difficulty in getting things done
The umbrella agency of private sector organizations in Barbados has stopped just short of admitting that some of its members engage in bribery and corruption.
While making it clear he did not have any evidence that business people were bribing politicians as claimed on Monday by former Chief Justice Sir David Simmons, new Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Charles Herbert said in any case, if there were an easier way of conducting business here, there would be no need for bribery.
“It is very hard for us to know how much of it [corruption claims] is true. What I would say is, when there is an ease of doing business, bribes go away, because you don’t need a bribe to get something done quickly. The minute there are delays, it opens the door for bribery because there is something to bribe you to do. So we can get rid of it by solving the ease of doing business,” Herbert told Barbados TODAY in an interview yesterday.
Speaking Monday on the talk show Down to Brass Tacks on the Starcom Network, Sir David charged that there was a high level of corruption in Barbados, which was being swept under the carpet.
While he did not cite specific examples, Sir David said there was evidence to suggest rising incidence of corrupt practices both at the private sector and Government levels, with the business community offering bribes to people in the public sector.
“The bribers are usually the people in the private sector. All the big international companies that get exposed from time to time, they would have bribed the politician who is then held up to ridicule and exposed and often a lot of them get away. They are the ones in the wrong. You have to look at the briber and the “bribee,” the former Member of Parliament for St Thomas said.
In response, Herbert suggested that there was a culture within the public sector that encouraged bribery. Insisting that any form of corruption was wrong, the BPSA head spoke of the difficulty faced by businesses in getting things done.
“It is difficult to do everything. It takes three days to get a liquor licence; it takes a month to get an amalgamation through Corporate Services; it goes on and on. Everything we do is difficult to do,” Herbert said.
Therefore, he said, some within the business community might feel that in order to keep their businesses afloat they had to circumvent the system by offering kickbacks.
In fact, Herbert said, some members of the private sector were able to get things done which others found difficult to achieve. But, while bribery might be suspected in some instances, he was not prepared to point fingers at anyone.
“We don’t know if it is because they push harder than us, because they know somebody that we don’t know, or if they are bribed. We don’t know. So unless you have actually paid a bribe yourself, then you don’t know if bribing happens. “It is a tacit innuendo to spread; but the truth is, if it barks like a dog, smells like a dog and walks like a dog, it probably is a dog, though you can’t prove it.” Herbert said.