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Max: Deal with perception of corruption

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

PUT aside "arrogance" and deal with the perception of corruption in this country, President George Maxwell Richards has said.

Richards made the statement on Thursday night as he delivered the feature address at the Integrity Commission's 25th anniversary celebration and Christmas dinner at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad), Port of Spain.

"When we read that Trinidad and Tobago is ranked 80 out of 176 countries in the Transparency International's annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2012 and on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being a corruption-free society, this country scored 39, we need to sit up and take notice," Richards said.

"We did not even score a passing grade, whereas five countries in our region, ranging from Barbados at 76 to Dominica at 58, out-performed us," he said.

"We cannot afford to have arrogance cause us to set aside this finding, which sends the wrong signals and perceptions to the outside world as to the kind of people that we are," Richards said.

Richards said this country's failing grade in the CPI has signalled the need for the Integrity Commission.

"I posit, therefore, that those who say that the Integrity Commission has outlived its usefulness and should be abandoned are missing the point," Richards said.

"Indeed there have been difficulties that needed to be addressed and some matters are yet unresolved, however, if the Integrity in Public Life Act does not now provide that which is necessary for the Commission to assist in making Trinidad and Tobago a corruption free society, then steps should be taken to review and strengthen the Act," Richards said.

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