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Govt’s anti-corruption Bill ‘half-hearted and flawed’, GSD says

Archive image of GSD Leader Keith Azopardi. Photo John Bugeja

The Anti-Corruption Bill published by the Gibraltar Government last week “does not go far enough and is flawed”, the GSD said, adding a “sea change” was needed in governance standards.

The Government said the draft legislation, which has yet to be debated and approved by Parliament, aims to increase public accountability and transparency in Gibraltar and establish a regulatory framework in all areas of public responsibility.

The Bill seeks to create an anti-corruption authority, and sets out in detail its composition, duties, powers and functions, immunities and protections, conflict of interest provisions, confidentiality, as well as powers to issue guidance and cooperate with other domestic authorities.

But the GSD said the draft legislation falls short of those goals.

“We have no faith in this Government adhering to the necessary standards in public life given that it tolerates opaque financial and governance practices that are unacceptable,” the GSD said in a statement reacting to the Bill.

“It has also failed to clamp down hard enough on conflicts of interests affecting it and persons close to it and ministers or to deal properly with waste, abuse or corruption.”

“All these practices cheat the taxpayer and are deeply corrosive of fairness and proper values.”

The GSD said the Bill was “window dressing and a smokescreen” that contrasted “starkly” with “reality on the ground”.

It said the government had taken 11 years to publish the draft legislation despite promising to set up an Anti-Corruption Authority as far back as the 2011 general election.

It said people would see through the draft legislation, which was “half-hearted” and came against a backdrop of “clamour” on this issue and what it described as “a litany of examples that would fall foul or proper standards in public life”.

“This has to be seen as a whole,” said Keith Azopardi, the Leader of the Opposition.

“Other things need to be done and the Bill is not comprehensive enough.”

“It goes nowhere close to providing the change or controls that are necessary.”

“At the next election we will have a positive and comprehensive package of reforms on anti-corruption and to tackle waste and abuse.”

“That programme will deliver transparency, value for money and standards.”

“We will start conducting those reforms immediately on being elected to Government.”

“Those changes will be radical and completely overhaul how things are presently done.”

“They will set strict standards that will be enforced.”

“We need a sea change in how things are done and we will introduce new financial and governance standards and practices. We will deliver on this agenda.”

“The Government led by Mr Picardo is now part of this problem and Gibraltar will be unable to deal with this issue decisively until there is a change of Government.”

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