Pulling dirty strings
'Bly' culture breeding corruption, hurting Jamaica - Henry
Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
Director of the National Integrity Action (NIA) Martin Henry has warned against the corrupt nature of the 'bly' syndrome, gripping Jamaica.
Henry told a Gleaner Editors' forum on Wednesday that the existing problem of corruption plaguing society has been linked to a significant number of Jamaicans relying on a 'bly' - a special favour or chance by circumventing due process.
"There are givers and takers, and people in power and people who manipulate power to their private advantage," said Henry. "Corruption is not only what state authorities do; corruption is also what people want to be done."
Henry flatly described Jamaica as a corrupt society from top to bottom.
"We need to take the broad-brush approach to deal with the matter," he told the forum.
He lamented that too many persons view acts of corruption as a normal way of getting things done.
"The truth is, a lot of what people need to do to get by in this country is better executed under the table," he declared.
Henry suggested that this has come about because of the slow pace at which things get done in Jamaica.
"If you want to get things done faster, better and more oriented towards delivery, we find that normal procedures hinder such process," he argued.
NEED TO CHANGE COURSE
The NIA director said this is a clear indication that Jamaica will have to change how things are done and suggested that processes and systems must be made to operate transparently, and leaders need to be held accountable.
"What is needed is a broad programme of public education on the two-sided nature of corruption," he asserted.
For his part, NIA Executive Director Professor Trevor Munroe said research shows that there has been a slight decrease in the number of persons dependent on handouts. He, however, suggested that Jamaica has a long way to go in eradicating the scourge.
"The surveys show that fewer and fewer persons are benefiting from any let-offs," he said. "Having said that, we need to get the awareness going that let-offs are against the law and then ensure - by advocacy and pressure - that the law-enforcement authorities act in the way that they should," said Munroe.
He said corruption cannot be measured at one level only. The top, middle and the bottom must be assessed.
"The time has come for us to advocate and not let the political parties off the hook, so that the representation of the people is applied and that they carry out their responsibilities with fairness and transparency," he added.