Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

The Chamber of Industry and Commerce is urging anyone who is offered a bribe to report it to the police. In a statement issued yesterday, the chamber also renewed its support for procurement legislation.

“We have been fearlessly advocating for the enactment, proclamation and enforcement of legislation to address issues related to procurement, freedom of information, campaign finance reform and whistleblower protection. Unfortunately, some of these areas have continuously been deferred or inadequately addressed by various administrations,” the chamber said.

The chamber said that it believed that if these safeguards were implemented, they would limit opportunities for parties to engage in activities such as bribery “since an environment of openness and accountability will prevail across all sectors”.

It said that feedback from the International Chamber of Commerce was that in some markets efforts were made by the public sector to reduce the ease of doing business in an effort to encourage the payment of bribes.

“It is important to note that over the years Trinidad and Tobago has consistently scored low on the ease of doing business index and high on the corruption index. The reality is the country’s development ultimately suffers. Public sector corruption adds substantially to the costs of public goods and services, contributes to the misallocation of public resources, weakens policymaking and diminishes public confidence,” the Chamber statement said.

It noted that similarly, private corruption distorts markets and prevents a fair and efficient private sector, thereby increasing costs and reducing the quality of products and services available to the population.

“Tackling corruption requires a sense of collective responsibility and we, therefore, encourage any individual who is asked to pay a bribe or who is offered a bribe to report it immediately to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service so that the necessary action can take place,” the chamber said.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert said last week that there is a perception that he is too stupid to accept bribes.

When challenged on whether he had reported offers of bribes to him, he later clarified and confirmed that he had reported all such cases to the police.