Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Jason Robinson | Jamaica’s biggest problem is corruption, not crime!

Published:Wednesday | January 22, 2020 | 12:23 AMJason Robinson/Contributor

“Corruption is when a politician uses public funds to deliver pistachio ice cream to his home and transfer garden furniture to his Caesarea villa, then requesting that the expenses be covered for the water in his pool and fights to get a private jet.”

–Yair Lapid

 

An Inter-American Development Bank report suggests that Jamaica has a serious crime and corruption problem. Data shows that we recorded 52 murders in the first 16 days of 2020, despite using one of the most powerful security measures in our national security arsenal – states of public emergency (SOEs). And everyone is acting oblivious to how we got here. It’s not very difficult to understand.

High levels of violence and crime are synonymous with corruption. In fact, the evidence shows that the most violent countries in the world tend to be the most corrupt. And although it’s a bitter pill to swallow, we need to accept the obvious.

Crime cannot be fixed if corruption goes unchecked. We cannot militarise or police our way out of crime. By now this should be very clear to everyone. In order to fix crime, we need a strategy of honesty among our leaders, and we need it fast.

Over the last 30 years, successive governments have been going hard on crime, but soft on corruption. As a result, billions of tax dollars continue to be misused, while crime spiral out of control. We all are suffering as a result of corruption.

Our health and education sectors are failing because of inadequate funding, while several of healthcare professionals and teachers are leaving in order to find hope. Professionals who remain are denied jobs or promotions based on nepotism, cronyism or political affiliation.

The systemic bureaucracies continue to stifle economic growth. Every reasonable person should be able to see that corruption is a recipe for crime and violence in Jamaica and should not be allowed to flourish.

SOE ON CORRUPTION

According to Transparency International, “Nothing feeds corruption more than apathy, or the belief nothing can be done.” This creates a perception of impunity for the corrupt. We have seen examples where government ministers resigned amid allegations of financial wrongdoings before they are investigated.

Nationwide Bluedot polls show that 64 per cent of us believe the government is corrupt. However, we seldom hear of them being investigated for breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act; we often hear about police officers.

It is said that more Jamaicans are confident that the prime minister can deal with corruption better than the opposition leader. I hope he doesn’t disappoint us. I hope he does the right thing and set a standard for his opposition counterparts as well as future leaders to follow.

Mr Prime Minister, Jamaica’s biggest problem is corruption, not crime. Please declare an SOE on corruption.

Jason Robinson is a former organised crime investigator and a graduate of the Caribbean Maritime University. He holds a Master of Science in security administration and management. Email feedback to jasona_robinson78@yahoo.com and columns@gleanerjm.com