Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Give the people what they want

www.fijitimes.com

EDITORIAL

Monday, February 11, 2008

CORRUPTION has been around since people organised themselves into and societies started governing each other.

Where there are people who have it within their power to grant favours from which other people can profit, there is great potential for corrupt behaviour.

It takes many forms but the most prevalent is the exchange of cash for favours.

The fact that it is global phenomenon does not make it acceptable here or anywhere else.

Many governments worldwide have recognised the threat that corruption poses to their societies and ways of life and have established policing arms whose sole task is to combat corruption and stamp it out, wherever possible.

Mostly called anti-corruption units, they are given the powers of arrest and prosecution.

Why so much fuss over something that's been around for so long and is so widespread. It's because corruption, as we point out today, is a cancer that, left unchecked can eat away at countries and peoples.

It feeds on the wealth of nations, sucking it out of the domestic economy and, typically, putting it into real estate or more portable stores of wealth overseas.

It starts small, a few bucks to the policeman who stops you for speeding, a small incentive to a civil servant for the speedy processing of a document. Further up the scale it can involve thousands, even millions of dollars changing hands in return for special treatment in government contracts or licenses.

That is why there is merit in Transparency International's calls for political parties in Fiji to declare all contributions publicly.

It correctly says all parties should disclose who and how much they contributed. That way, if elected, the people can see for themselves who is benefiting from whomever is in office.

Such transparency will make it difficult for would-be coup perpetrators to take power under the guise of ridding the nation of corruption as is the case here.

The military threw an elected Government out under that very pretext. Yet over a year later, little or no evidence of entrenched corruption has come to light.

It is, perhaps one reason, why people are hesitant to support the regime's bid of moving the country forward.

How can they back a group that by their very actions have failed to live up to their words.

Accountability and transparency in government add to the people's confidence in the system.

And, that surely, is the best way forward, no matter who is in control.

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