Time To Prosecute Thieves of Public Funds

Government CorruptionAs a Bahamian citizen of this country, I have become more and more disgusted with the manner in which public funds are spent.

I have even grown more disturbed with the way in which public funds can go missing or are unaccounted for and no one is ever prosecuted or brought to justice for this treasonous act.

There have been many examples of improprieties with public spending from as early as the 1970s. There was a case of the PVC pipes going missing to the tune of over $100,000.

There was the astronomical fee with the recently built bathroom facilities at Saunders Beach. There was the public scandal at the Ministry of Education’s Loan Division this year.

There is the impending scandal with the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation, and the Ministry of Housing which has allegedly exposed wide-range irregularities with the management of mortgages and the misuse of public funds.

The misuse of public funds is nothing new to the Bahamas. In the 1980s, there existed the guise of the 10 per cent ministers. It was alleged that government contracts were subject to a 10 per cent ministerial fee by certain ministers.  Public outrage at the time was minimal at best because of our thriving drug economy.

Proceeds from the illegal drug trade were so good and so profitable for the Bahamas that public spending went basically unchecked. We will probably never know how much of our public funds were misused or stolen during this period.

Just recently, I overheard well-connected officials from a major political party speaking about a number of illegal practices in government ministries, past and present. I was amazed at the widespread acceptance of these activities as normal. One gentleman said, “Ya gat to eat.”

There are too many Bahamians walking around this great country acting like they never committed a crime in their life. They have a condition called amnesia. Some of them are in high society and some of them are not doing too well financially.

They have benefited illegally from the misuse and/or from the stealing of public funds. We need the designated personnel in the government to do their jobs and bring charges against such individuals.

A clear message needs to be sent that when you steal from the government, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Several weeks ago, I had to pull on the side of the road as I was heading south on East Street past Lil General’s Convenience Store. At least three Police Explorers passed me heading north at accelerated speeds. I found out later that police were responding to a robbery at Burger King, Cable Beach.

Days later, several former employees of Burger King were charged with this crime. The police’s cumulative response and their investigative efforts in apprehending the suspects and bringing them before the courts were very impressive and they should be commended for an outstanding job.

In the same vain, just as there is a coordinated police response when persons rob business establishments, I would like to see the relevant authorities in government act in this same manner and coordinate their efforts quickly to bring justice to alleged thieves when public funds go missing.

Just as those persons charged with the alleged robbery of Burger King were paraded through Bank Lane in less than one week after the robbery, the same thing needs to happen to high ranking government officials who run scams to defraud the public purse.

I am calling on the present government and the next government to initiate a national probe into the spending and thievery of public funds. I am calling on the present government and the next government to prosecute all public thieves.

Dehavilland Moss
Nassau, The Bahamas
December, 2011