Trevor Munroe | If Gov't is serious about corruption
I share your "surprise and concern" (expressed in the Sunday Gleaner editorial, February 15, 2017) "that so little was made of corruption in last week's Throne Speech" and use this medium to call on the prime minister to repair this serious deficiency in his Budget presentation, as well as in amending the Government's 2017-2018 legislative agenda to prioritise anti-corruption measures.
The amendments should include at least the following, if we are to take as seriously as it deserves the prime minister's repeatedly stated resolve to more effectively combat corruption in Jamaica:
1) The actual establishment of the Integrity Commission by completing the merger of the current institutions as a matter of urgency and the provision of the necessary resources. The bill still needs to pass the Senate as a number 1 priority;
2) The naming of an early date for long-pending anti-corruption legislation, already passed by both Houses of Parliament and assented to by the governor general, namely, the amendments to the Representation of the People Act providing for the "registration and deregistration of political parties", passed in 2014, and the regulation of campaign financing, passed in 2015 and assented to by the governor general in February 2016. The PM needs to instruct that the regulations relating to both amendments be placed before the Parliament and an early date be named for the laws to come into effect;
NEED TO BE MORE AWARE
3) As promised in the governor general's Throne Speech of April 14, 2016, "impeachment legislation" that "will provide for impeachment proceedings to be brought against corrupt public officials and parliamentarians". This commitment was not fulfilled in the legislative year just ended, though proposed as far back as 2011 by then Prime Minister Golding in his address to the House of Representatives on May 10.
All ministries, departments and government agencies now receiving inadequate budgetary resources need to be mindful of the assessment in Jamaica's 'New Approach' National Security Policy (Ministry Paper 63 of 2014) that Jamaica's economy could be three to 10 times larger had successive administrations more effectively combated crime and corruption.
More so the man in the street and the youth on the corner need to be more aware that the absence of decent jobs, the prevalence of bad roads, inadequate water supplies, overcrowded schools, etc. are but some of the consequences of pervasive corruption. Our citizens must demand that Government act consistently with the recognition that 'less corruption=more investment=more jobs'.
Finally, may I commend your series of editorials, which are contributing to the growth of this awareness and the strengthening of citizen demand for action against corruption. I encourage you to maintain this advocacy in the public interest.
- Trevor Munroe is executive director of National Integrity Action. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.