Amid allegations that a senior public officer accepted a bribe in exchange for prejudicially awarding a government contract, the Office of the Deputy Governor has reported that government is moving to improve the territory’s procurement legislation.
“The Ministry of Finance is at an advanced stage in producing enhanced procurement legislation, which is currently under consideration by Cabinet,” Permanent Secretary in the Deputy Governor’s Office, Carolyn Stoutt Igwe told BVI News.
She said other components such as the Public Service Management Act, the Integrity in Public Service Act, and a Code of Conduct for government ministers are also being reviewed for implementation,
The Permanent Secretary was responding to questions on what systems are in place to detect and stamp out corruption among public officers.
With the aforesaid alleged incident only coming to the public’s attention because the contractor who allegedly offered the bribe opted to seek police intervention, Stoutt-Igwe was asked whether her office was concerned that there might potentially be incidents of a similar nature that might have gone undetected.
She did not give a direct response.
She instead noted that the Office of the Deputy Governor — which has oversight of the public service — has a “no-tolerance stance on corruption and at all times will take any indication of such seriously”.
“We will soon augment the principles of accountability and transparency through the implementation of a Public Service Management Bill which will include an aspect on Whistleblowing and the protection of those who provide information on wrongdoing. Cementing our current policies and transparency and accountability into law signals how seriously we take good governance in the Public Service,” she said.
Monitoring contracts and senior officials
BVI News had also asked who monitors high-ranking officials who have oversight and the authority to approve/award contracts.
The Permanent Secretary explained that senior officers at the ‘Head of Department’ level are managed by Permanent Secretaries or the Financial Secretary.
She continued: “The Permanent Secretaries and the Financial Secretary are monitored by the Deputy Governor. Oversight of projects is provided by project committees and/or the Project Support Services Unit”.
Earlier this month, senior government worker Robert Swain was charged for bribery by a public officer. He is accused of accepting a $5,400 bribe from a local contractor. The public officer pleaded not guilty and is expected to go to trial.
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