TRINIDAD and Tobago has been named by France as one of 17 countries blacklisted because they do not help investigate foreign aid fraud.
France has banned the use of banks in the countries on the list, from helping in distributing development funds, international news agencies reported on Monday.
According to the reports, aides to France’s development minister, Pascal Canfin, were unable to say how much French foreign aid is currently processed via banks in the countries featured on the new blacklist.
The blacklist expands on an already-established register of eight “non-co-operative states and territories” that includes Botswana, Brunei, Nauru, Guatemala and the Philippines.
It adds Switzerland, Lebanon, Panama, Costa Rica, the United Arab Emirates, Dominica, Liberia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vanuatu.
Asked for a comment yesterday, Vasant Bharath, Minister of Trade and Industry and Minister in the Ministry of Finance, said he had seen the report but would only be able to speak on it after further investigation. He said he will be better able to comment on the blacklisting today, after his own enquiries.
The French officials justified the move by saying there was a lack of transparency in the nations on the list, adding that poor and developing countries were often the main victims of fraud.
“The aim is primarily preventative, to put pressure on these countries by publicising this list to progress towards more transparency,” they said.
The Phillipines has responded to the report and asked for more information regarding the reasons for the listing.
In a Market Facts and Opinion (MFO) poll commissioned by the Trinidad Express, 89 per cent of the persons polled believed corruption was widespread in government and the local business community.
And according to Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2012, Trinidad and Tobago is ranked 80 out of 176.
On a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being a corruption-free society and zero a corrupt society, T&T scored 39.