Government Undergoes Process to Sign UN Convention on Anti-Corruption

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Updated: October 3, 2016

One of the eight demands being made by the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) is the signing onto the United Nations Convention on Anti-corruption.  Love News spoke with Dr Carla Barnett who is also a supporter of the convention.  Dr Barnett is the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance; she spoke of the UN Convention and where the Government is on becoming a signatory.

DR CARLA BARNETT

“One of the things that I support very strongly is signing onto the UN Charter against corruption and this goes way back. In 2005 we made the decision and this was the {Royal we} because I wasn’t a part of the decision making at that time to sign on to the Inter American Charter. The UN Charter I think came into being in 2003 or something like that. Government is making most to do that, there are issues that we have to sort through to make sure that when we do it, we do it right. I am actually the person on government’s side who is sitting with the Chamber of Commerce at this stage to work through a proper process to get us to signing on to the UN Charter at the earliest possible time. And Why I say the earliest possible time? Because we should never sign agreements without thinking through how we are going to implement them and so we are thinking through the implementation and when we determine that we have the wherewithal to properly implement it we are going to recommend to cabinet that it is time to sign it and that is work that is really very urgent. We’ve had our first meeting we are working through how the UN can help us to do this because within the set of arrangements that attend the UN Charter against corruption there is technical assistance and advice that can from them to make sure that what we are proposing to do is done right so that as we sign they are in agreement that we are doing it the right way. So we are moving towards doing that.”

According to Dr Barnett there is more to it than just signing a document; she says there are several things needed to be in place before the signing.

DR CARLA BARNETT

“There is an overall oversight body that needs to be in place that is responsible for ensuring that all of the various pillars of the convention are being implemented and for reporting to the UN conference of all the people who have signed and ratified the convention to sit and assess each other because it’s a mutual assessment kind of process that is there. It means, that you have to have in place a process for reporting, and then we have to have in place all of the various institutions because that body is not the body that actually does the on the ground work, that is the body that ensures that who is responsible to do the work gets the work done and so there is a range of bodies that will be necessary, some of them we have already we may need to strengthen them significantly. Bodies like the contractor general, the Integrity Commission, there are laws that we will need to amend and strengthen like the finance and audit act, we will need to go through. We may need a second procurement act, that is something that government had already begun to work through. There may need to look at the way the private sector functions because remember corruption is not at thing that government does alone. Government people work with private sector people and that is where you have that corrupt activities. So there are changes that will also have to be made in terms of private sector and that is what people have to understand. It’s not just singing and then somebody flies in and say this is what you’re doing right or wrong, that is not how it’s done, we have to do the changes and then make sure we do the things that the changes tell us we have to do. So when we strengthen our bank and financial institutions act it may need to be strengthened again so there is a range of things that we will have to do, but we want to know before we take the step of signing it is good for us to know the full range of what we have to do so that we have an understanding of the time frame that we will have to see that happen and the resources that it will require of us to make all of those changes that need to be made.”

The United Nations Convention against Corruption currently has one hundred and forty signatories from around the world was first entered into force on December 14, 2005.