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Governor General ready to help fight corruption

Published:Wednesday | March 11, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
Sir Patrick Allen

Governor General Sir Patrick Allen on Monday sounded a battle cry against corruption, but was quick to warn that that the fight is often bloody.

Sir Patrick declared that he was ready to be an ally in the war, hours after the floodlights were turned on youth overwhelmed by corruption.

He also warned of the dangerous effects of the scourge on children.

"I daresay that corruption is the cause of the day, and I would like to stand by the person or persons who are prepared to be bloody and wounded in that fight," he declared.

In the afternoon session of the three-day anti-corruption conference, organised by the Office of the Contractor General at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, and attended by prominent members of the diplomatic community, Sir Patrick declared, "Jamaica needs some good men and women in the cause and the fight against corruption."

He asserted that combating this scourge was never easy where the erosion of values and attitudes has created a fertile ground for crime.

"It is not a stroll in the park. It is a long, tiring, tedious tussle through mud, because it goes right back to the family, where too many parents have abdicated their nurturing and character-building roles," he stressed.

He lamented that all too often, a child's introduction to corruption was in the home. "They witness parents or guardians stealing electricity and water and eluding the authorities ... . In these instances, they are used as the lookout."

He bemoaned that Jamaica has hovered at 38 on the Transparency International Corruption Index for too long, reaching its best rating of 40 in 2013 and falling to its worst of 33 in 2011.

"Despite the stated commitment of leaders and public and private sectors, laws enacted, the National Integrity Action's excellent work, public-awareness campaigns and all the other things we are doing, we are still lagging in the fight against corruption," said Sir Patrick.

He stressed that Jamaicans cannot afford to be double-minded or disheartened, as Jamaica's future, as well as its children's, was at stake.

He, however, expressed confidence in the belief that there were many Jamaicans ready to beat corruption.

"We have political and business leaders and other persons of integrity in Jamaica who understand that we cannot liberate our people from poverty unless we eradicate systemic corruption, which constantly makes some rich and others poor, some as high-rollers and others as no-rollers," said Sir Patrick.

He added: "I believe that when Jamaica's leaders, citizens and followers unite in unrelenting action against corruption, they will hasten the attainment of our objectives, of social transformation, and economic development and a fair and equitable and just society."

He noted that of the 199 member states of the United Nations, 174, including Jamaica, were party to the 2005 Union Convention Against Corruption. "However, according to Transparency International, corruption remains a serious threat to socio-economic development in large majority of states," said Allen.