Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Jamaica more corrupt? - Advocates flog Gov't 'unbothered' by rankings fall

Published:Thursday | January 26, 2017 | 1:00 AMJovan Johnson
Chuck
Munroe
Golding
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Anti-corruption advocates are flogging the Andrew Holness administration for Jamaica being 'seen' as more corrupt in a new report, which the Government insists it is not rattled by.

Jamaica has slipped 14 places to 83 out of 176 countries on the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released on Tuesday by Transparency International, which said that this year's results highlight problems with corruption and inequality.

The CPI score has also dropped Jamaica to 39 out of 100, two places lower than the 41 attained in 2015. On the CPI, zero is seen as highly corrupt and 100 as very clean. Jamaica has averaged in the 30s, and countries scoring less than 50 are said to have "a serious corruption problem".

Delroy Chuck, justice minister, said he does not see the results as a blemish on the administration of Holness, whose Jamaica Labour Party came to power pledging to "end the abuse of power and rampant corruption in Jamaica".

"Not at all," Chuck told The Gleaner when asked if the Government was rattled by the CPI results. "From where I sit, we're doing everything to improve the delivery of service that would allow our citizens to have a better perception of how the Government works."

But former contractor general Greg Christie said despite being in office for almost a year, "Jamaica is yet to see any definitive anti-corruption plans or initiatives" from the Government. "It's hoped," he said on Twitter, that the declines "will now spur the Andrew Holness-led government to aggressively move against corruption."

 

... Delays only fuel corruption - stakeholders

 

Opposition Spokesman on Justice Mark Golding is of the view that the Government has done "nothing" to stem corruption since taking office 12 months ago. This is in light of Jamaica falling in the rankings on this year's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released on Tuesday by Transparency International. Jamaica slipped 14 places to 83 out of 176 countries.

"The Government has not really done anything since coming into office, and there's been a loss of momentum in tackling corruption," Golding told The Gleaner.

He added that Prime Minister Andrew Holness authorising the spectrum licence to Symbiote Investments Limited, operators of Caricel and going against the Office of the Contractor General's recommendation were to Jamaica's detriment.

Professor Trevor Munroe, who also noted the Caricel issue, said speeding things up involves ending delays to introducing legislation in Parliament on areas such as political party registration and campaign financing.

The executive director of the National Integrity Action said delays in passing the Integrity Commission Bill, which would create a single anti-corruption agency, hinders action in corruption-related cases.

>> See full story at www.jamaica-gleaner.com.

As examples, he noted that the issue that hit municipal corporations last year as well as the Firearm Licensing Authority's bungling relating to the so-called X6 murder case "contribute to public perception of a decline in anti-corruption momentum in the public sector".

Justice minister Delroy Chuck said that the debate on the Integrity Commission Bill could end next week with Holness' contribution to the House. But the legislation is unlikely to be approved by Parliament before the current session ends. Regarding criticism that the bill is weak, he said no further amendments will be proposed, but "in three years, we would reassess the bill again to see how it can be strengthened".

Denmark and New Zealand share the top spot as the least corrupt countries on the CPI, while Somalia is the most corrupt.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com