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Jamaica seen as less corrupt - ... Report could spur increased investment, says Munroe

Published:Thursday | January 28, 2016 | 1:00 AMEdmond Campbell

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of the National Integrity Action (NIA) Professor Trevor Munroe says the prospects for increased investments and job creation in Jamaica have been enhanced by the country's significant jump by 16 places on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

He said the need for more investments and job creation is arguably the number-one priority in Jamaica at this time.

According to Munroe, the 2015-2016 Global Competi-tiveness Report, along with its predecessors, identifies corruption among the top four of 16 "most problematic factors for doing business in Jamaica".

"To the extent that we can get that perception reduced, to that extent we can increase the attractiveness of our country for investment locally and foreign and thereby facilitate job creation," the NIA head reasoned.

Chief executive officer of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica Dennis Chung indicated that there was a link between the improvement in the country economy and the results of the latest CPI.

"If you look at the improvement in the economy, and improvement in the processes, the legislation, you notice that there is a direct correlation between the movement and improvement in corruption index and also the economic side, and that is why we have always been saying that corruption is a major impediment to economic growth so if we can deal with that, reduce the corruption, reduce the bureaucracy, we are going to see a better country," Chung said in a Gleaner interview.

Yesterday, the CPI 2015 results showed that Jamaica has advanced 16 places on the index after remaining stationary for nine years. Munroe attributed the movement, among other things, to increased demand from Jamaicans for government accountability and the work of a plethora of anti-corruption bodies as well as the passage of critical pieces of legislation to tackle corruption.

Jamaica has now moved from 85 of 175 countries in 2014 to 69 of 168 countries in 2015.

Jamaica is among 11 of the 168 countries captured in the 2015 index that has improved its ranking by 16 or more places.

Effectively, the country has advanced from 38 to 41 of a maximum score of 100, in which zero is highly corrupt and 100 is perceived as being free of corruption.

At a press conference yesterday organised by the NIA at The Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew, Munroe pointed directly to the work of the Contractor General in exposing impropriety and corruption and promising punitive action in relation to the Hanover and St Thomas Parish councils.

The anti-corruption watchdog body has also identified the efforts of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency in targeting police corruption and high-profile criminals involved in corruption as a contributory factor in Jamaica's improved showing on the CPI.

At the same time, opposition spokesman on Justice Delroy Chuck has heaped praises on the NIA for its role in combating corruption through extensive public-education programmes along with its partners.