Selebrashon 33 aña Korpodeko Diskurso di Promé Minister Rhuggenaath
Speech PM – Korpodeko – April 23 2018
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, good evening
Congratulations to Korpodeko on their 33rd anniversary of offering resources towards the sustainable development of Curaçao. I not only want to thank Korpodeko for bringing us together tonight to celebrate their anniversary, but I also want to thank them for shedding a light on a not often talked about threat to development: corruption. It is a privilege that we get to do that in the presence of Founder of Transparency International, Peter Eigen, here in Curaçao. Welcome Mr. Eigen en Mrs. Schwan!
Corruption… is often seen as something that primarily politicians are vulnerable to, and sometimes engage in. But corruption however, is not solely the doing of politicians. Corruption can infiltrate the fabric of society as a whole. Whenever there are corruptive practices: it takes two, and sometimes more than two to tango.
Corruption is also displayed in a greater variety than merely bribes for services, contracts, or even votes. It is a multifaceted and complex practice that, in all its diversity, has one thing in common: it deprives the weakest in society of equal rights to services or opportunities. It is the weakest in society that are hurt the most when scarce resources that are meant to be spent on creating opportunities disappear in the pockets of the few.
For our young country, working on developing a sustainable future where no one is left behind…corruption is unacceptable.
Though the journey is long — we still have work a lot of work to do to ban corruption in its entirety — the good news is that we have made incremental but important steps.
In 2012, the Curacao government asked Transparency International to conduct a broad comprehensive investigation, into the vulnerabilities to corruption in all segments of our Curaçaoan society, by way of a National Integrity System Assessment.
This National Integrity Assessment was finalized in 2013 and discussed in the Council of Ministers. The government approved an implementation plan in November 2013. Although we have seen various coalitions and governments since the start of the implementation plan, steady actions within government has been taken throughout the years. Consecutive governments have taken steps that result in specific and concrete actions that contribute to decreasing the vulnerability to corruption in Curacao. Not all aspects have been implemented, but many have, and my government is committed to further take action on remaining aspects.
This festive occasion does not lend itself for a full review, but I will shortly highlight some of the specific projects and initiatives of the government.
One of the core recommendations made by TI to our government, is to consider joining the UN Convention Against Corruption which serves as a universal anti-corruption instrument. We have finalized extensive assessments of our national legal framework, to see whether our penal and civil code that were modernized in recent years, are up to date with the requirements of this convention. We are now reviewing these analyses to consider the next steps and a realistic roadmap towards the possibility of joining this convention.
Other specific steps that the government has taken are among others:
- The introduction of a code of conduct for civil servants, accompanied by a comprehensive training program for internal facilitators. These facilitators ensure continuity in learning, and in teaching the requirements of the code of conduct to our civil servants. I believe there was a training no less than 2 weeks ago.
- The independization of the Election Bureau. The Ministry of Governance, Planning and Service has been working diligently on this priority. Politics should not have a hand in elections. We learned that the hard way!
- Publication of laws in digital form online. This is a comprehensive process, but we are making headway.
- The introduction of screening of persons that occupy specific functions inside and outside of government, and the requirement that they obtain a declaration that is issued after a rigorous analysis. ( so called vertrouwensfuncties)
- A specific law to screen candidates before they can be appointed as minister .
Another important step: our government is working diligently to soon introduce a specific Integrity Bureau to perform investigations into possible violations of integrity in our ministries, but also to analyze risks and help prevent fraudulent practices, in fact strengthening the government, making it more resilient against corruption. We hope to be able to launch and operationalize this either this year, or in the next year.
- Certainly not least, this government has also committed itself as stipulated within the coalition program ( page 29), to establishing an anti-corruption platform beyond government, which will work towards the further implementation of the TI recommendations.
Like I mentioned, there is more work to do, lots of work …….. But not just by the government. The government cannot do it alone. And should not do it alone. It is for a reason that the
National Integrity Assessment analyzed ALL sectors of our society, and also gave recommendations in all areas.
Just to mention the 14 pillars that have been investigated and that have received recommendations by TI :
Our core governance institutions:
- Legislature (Staten)
- Executive (Raad van Ministers)
- Judiciary (Hof van justitie)
Public sector agencies:
- Public sector (overheids NV’s en stichtingen)
- Law enforcement agencies (opsporingsinstanties OM, KPC, Landsrecherche)
- Electoral management body (hoofd stembureau)
- Supreme audit and supervisory institutions (public sector) (toezichthouders ARC, SOAB, CFT)
- Anti-corruption agencies
- Political parties
- Civil society (NGO’s)
- Business (KvK, VBC, CIFA, Bankers Ass. etc)
- Supervisory institutions (private sector) (toezicht private sector, zoals CBCS, MOT, GCB)
The recommendations for these sectors have not been adopted in a comprehensive manner. Not to say that there have not been great initiatives, such as the new NGO Korsou Transparente with citizens taking action to raise awareness about corruption. Certainly to be applauded.
There is work to be done and it is up to all of us to take the lead.
Tonight and on this occasion, I would like to honor the founder of Transparency International who is present with us, mr Peter Eigen, by inviting representatives of all 14 pillars — business leaders, political leaders, captains of industry, civil society leaders— to be inspired by the founder of TI in his keynote speech. Listen …. Think …. and afterwards please revisit the findings and recommendations of Transparency International for Curaçao. Consider what you, or your organization can do to make a lasting change to ban corruption from our island.
Let’s organize a form of concerted action in our country to strengthen all 14 pillars in our society in the fight against corruption. It is important for all of us, but especially for the most vulnerable people in our community. It is our job to ensure that we do everything in our power to make the best possible use of our resources in order to guarantee equal rights and opportunities for ALL, on this beautiful island that we call dushi Korsou.