The OBA said: “We note that Mr. Scott’s years in public office, including nearly three as Premier, did not result in meaningful strengthening of governance measures, despite promises to do so." *Photo by Kageaki Smith
The OBA said: “We note that Mr. Scott’s years in public office, including nearly three as Premier, did not result in meaningful strengthening of governance measures, despite promises to do so." *Photo by Kageaki Smith

SUNDAY, JANUARY 13: The OBA said it “appreciates” former Premier Alex Scott’s push for anti-corruption legislation but criticsed him for not doing more when he was Premier.

A press release from the One Bermuda Alliance said: “Any move toward stronger rules to root out and prevent corrupt practices in government should be welcomed.

“The One Bermuda Alliance made better governance a centre piece of its plans for Bermuda, outlining a broad range of reform to bring the highest levels accountability and transparency to the business of government.

“Our programme was developed in the context of a troubling history in which public concerns about corruption within government formed over a series of scandals from the Bermuda Housing Corporation, pay-to-play fundraising, untendered contracts and project cost overruns that cost taxpayers untold millions.

“Official investigations into various alleged wrongdoings also revealed the inadequacy of Bermuda’s existing laws, leading one investigator to conclude that officials had behaved “unethically but not illegally.”

“The OBA saw the need for stronger governance on two basic levels:

1)      Accountability, to ensure public officials are held accountable for their actions. To that end, the OBA committed to:

  • Integrity in Public Office legislation, with minimum standards for disclosure by Parliamentarians as it relates to  financial dealings with the government
  • Full support for the work of the Auditor General as the watchdog of the people’s money
  • Zero tolerance of unethical behaviour for public officials
  • Clear guidelines on what constitutes corrupt practices whether by Parliamentarians or civil servants, and
  • Ensure the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has all the resources necessary to assist the Contractor General and the Auditor General in their review of Government spending.

2)      Transparency, to ensure the work of government is open for the people to see. To that end, the OBA is committed to:

  • Implementing Freedom of Information and whistleblower legislation,
  • Creating an independent Contractor General to oversee Government construction projects, including open tendering. 

“We appreciate former Premier Alex Scott’s push for legislation to combat corruption in public life, and are sure the new Government will review it for proposals that can be incorporated into the OBA’s good governance programme.

“We note that Mr. Scott’s years in public office, including nearly three as Premier, did not result in meaningful strengthening of governance measures, despite promises to do so.

“Indeed, when the Opposition called in June 2005 for stronger anti-corruption laws, Mr. Scott rejected the call saying they were playing a dangerous game that could taint the Island’s reputation.

“Mr. Scott’s Government did not support an Opposition motion the following year for legislation similar to that which Mr. Scott brought forward last week.

“Had Mr. Scott and the PLP government moved at the time to pass anti-corruption legislation, Bermuda may have been spared questionable activity that clearly damaged the Island’s reputation as a responsible and well-run jurisdiction.

“Good intentions are one thing, but without action they amount to little. The OBA will make the changes necessary to ensure Bermuda’s rules of governance provide its people with the checks and balances and clear standards of conduct for open, transparent and accountable government.”