Sat | Dec 16, 2017

Govt working to tighten inefficiencies that lead to widespread corruption

Published:Friday | November 24, 2017 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
Prime Minister Andrew Holness
Trevor Munroe
1
2

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says that the Government is moving towards creating a greater level of efficiency among state agencies, which should help to stamp out corruption.

He was addressing recipients of the Integrity Champions certificate at the Karram Speid Auditorium in St Andrew, recently.

The Integrity Champions programme is a partnership initiative with National Integrity Action, USAID, and the Council for Voluntary Social Services, which focuses on preparing and training individuals in principles of how to curtail the negative effects of corruption.

"The flip side of corruption is inefficiency. We have to tackle corruption by legislation, prosecution, and naming and shaming. We must tackle corruption by ensuring that regulatory agencies that deal with permits are effective in what they are doing. A strategy of government is to increase the efficiency of the public sector. We have been doing that with various actions in terms of reviewing the public sector, looking at mergers, and looking at right-sizing. We have been taking various actions to ensure that the public sector is not an unfair and burdensome cost on the public," said Holness.

 

SYSTEM EVOLUTION

 

"There was a time when people would line up to get their passports and birth certificates, and it was a real horror with long lines. A system evolved where persons made a living out of holding spaces in lines, and people would pay and get through. There are several measures that the Government is putting in place, including the Integrity Commission Bill that was passed and recently gazetted. His excellency, the governor general, will, in short order, appoint five new commissioners to the single anti-corruption agency."

The prime minister added: "Also, the debate on the major organised crime and anti-corruption agency, the MOCA Bill, has been opened in the Lower House in Parliament. These pieces of legislation have been too long in the making, but they will certainly play a significant role in curbing corruption. Friends and integrity ambassadors, we cannot be ambivalent in tackling corruption! We cannot just talk conveniently. We must act, even if it brings some discomfort."

... Inaction sends wrong message - Munroe

Trevor Munroe, executive director of National Integrity Action (NIA), has declared that the inaction of those in positions of power to pursue and take action against incidents of corruption in Jamaica sends the wrong message to citizens.

"It hardly helps when there is no response to reports of corruption and when institutions that are required to enforce seem powerless to act. The key step in my view that we all need to focus on is effective enforcement of laws. There are too many instances of reported breaches, whether by the contractor general or others, and no action was taken," Munroe said during the recent certification ceremony of Integrity Champions at the Karram Speid Auditorium in St Andrew. This is an initiative of NIA, USAID, and the Council for Voluntary Social Services to promote integrity islandwide.

"When no action is taken, there is a general sense that it is spread across the entire society and that the authorities are either unwilling or unable to arrest the scourge of corruption. When we do that, we weaken the integrity of all other institutions. We are even seeing the effects in the political system in the declining levels of participation in the electoral process."

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com