Corruption and its negative impact on economic, social, and human development
Corruption! twined with dictatorship, can be compared to the Ebola virus in terms of the devastation it can bring on the economic, social, political, and human development of any country, particularly, Small Island developing states like Dominica.
What is corruption? How can corruption be adequately defined? In attempting to find an apt definition of this scourge, that destroys the institutions of democracy, in much the same way that the Ebola virus destroys the internal organs of the body after rendering the immune system ineffective; I settled on definition used by Transparency International, whose definition is classified into three categories, and I reproduce that definition here, "CORRUPTION IS THE ABUSE OF ENTRUSTED POWER FOR PRIVATE GAIN. IT HURTS EVERYONE WHO DEPENDS ON THE INTEGRITY OF PEOPLE IN A POSITION OF AUTHORITY"; and can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs.
Grand corruption consists of acts committed at a high level of government that distort policies or the central functioning of the state, enabling leaders to benefit at the expense of the public good.
Petty corruption refers to everyday abuse of entrusted power by low- and mid-level public officials in their interactions with ordinary citizens, who often are trying to access basic goods or services in places like hospitals, schools, police departments and other agencies.
Political corruption is a manipulation of policies, institutions and rules of procedure in the allocation of resources and financing by political decision makers, who abuse their position to sustain their power, status and wealth.
Not only does corruption affect economic development in terms of economic efficiency and growth, it also affects equitable distribution of resources across the population, increasing income inequalities, undermining the effectiveness of social welfare programs and ultimately resulting in lower levels of human development. This, in turn, may undermine long-term sustainable development, economic growth and equality.
Poorly equipped schools, hospitals and elections decided by money are just some of the consequences of public sector corruption. Bribes and backroom deals don't just steal resources from the most vulnerable – they undermine justice and economic development, and destroy public trust in government and leaders.
There is more than sufficient evidence that along with the definition as well as the consequences enumerated above exists in Dominica, and provides fertile ground for a dictatorship. This would not be such a tragedy for Dominica, had all of this evidence of corruption had not been substantiated and supported by the 2014 corruption perception index, prepared by Transparency International, in which Dominica scores as very corrupt. There will be those who, in defense of this corrupt regime, will contend that Dominica is among 175 countries, and that other governments have had some level of corruption; to these apologists I say, corruption is nothing to be proud of, and that even if there was any corruption, our institutions were intact, the judiciary was not perverted, the welfare department functioned properly, our police force was respected, and functioned with a high level of professionalism, the churches maintained their independence, and addressed the spiritual needs of their congregation, and that salvation did not carry a price of a diplomatic passport, or a $500,000.00 donation; the electoral commission was independent as intended by the constitution, not controlled by political party hacks, and denied funding to carry out its responsibilities as provided by the constitution, the police force did not appear to act as the military arm of the party in power, in this case the DLP. In summary, our institutions that were in place to support our inherited Westminster Style democracy, were functioning effectively, under the direction of public servants who were once highly respected professionals.
Today what we have is system infected by one of the most deadly virus known to man, that threatens the very existence of societies, by is ability to undermine and eventually destroy and dismantle those institutions that we depend on to sustain our democracy. This virus, called CORRUPTION, unlike the Ebola that has no vaccine, or cure at this time, does have a cure, and that cure is the ELECTORATE, the citizens of the state, particularly those of us who have a better understanding of its effect on human development, and the methods of its infection.
I would never in my wildest dreams thought that persons who claimed to have stood up in 1979 against the government of Patrick John, in the name of defending democracy, would now be defending and even legitimizing corruption, dictatorship, the twin enemies of DEMOCRACY.