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Tewarie: Big thief, small thief in TT

By JULIEN NEAVES Thursday, June 12 2014

THERE are “big thieves and small thieves” in this country, and a culture of compliance requires enforcement and a cultural transformation, Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie said yesterday.

He said the reason people do things contrary to the law is because they have no character.

“They feel they can get away with it, and they will do it. And as long as they can get away with it they will continue to do it,” he said.

He noted this applied to Government, private sector, and the citizenry of this country.

“A culture of compliance does not come (just) like that. A culture of compliance only comes when enforcement is a corollary to the establishment of good law. So that if people know that to break the law will lead to a consequence and that they will have to feel the pain of that consequence, it is automatically a deterrent, a disincentive to break the law,” he said.

He made the comments while winding up debate on the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Bill (2014) on Tuesday in Senate at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain.

He said the fact that the bill has taken so long was not because of inertia, or lack of good intentions, but it was a long and difficult process due to sabotage, uncertainty and “cacophony” of differing views. He noted that civil society was basically saying they had their own bill already, and Government should not write another.

“Which government in the world is going to do that? A government will consider anything if it is reasonable (and) will take anything into account if it is reasonable. But a government cannot have something shoved down its throat, if it is a serious government. And I want to say that I am part of a serious government, and as a serious minister I am not doing that,” he said.

Tewarie said a culture of compliance does not happen simply because you want it to, but you must create the conditions for cultural transformation, and by habit this is inculcated into the institutions of society, including the schools.

“So this is no easy thing. And...it took us 50, 60 years to get here. It’s not going to take us one month to transform the process,” he said.

He said without the enforcement mechanisms for good law then it will be irrelevant “and bad habits are going to replace the compliance requirements of good law”. He noted the enforcement mechanism in the bill and the institutional support required were very important for this country.

The Senate resumed its sitting yesterday at 11.30 am and was in Committee Stage until 6.30 pm when the Bill was passed, with amendments, with all 28 members in the Upper House voting in favour of it.

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