Wed | Jun 19, 2019

Empower Integrity Commission to investigate all Gov't contracts - Phillips

Published:Friday | March 16, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Staff Reporter

Peter Phillips, leader of the opposition, called for the Integrity Commission, the country's newly formed single anti-corruption body, to be empowered to investigate all government contracts, no matter how small, as he made his Budget Debate presentation yesterday.

Phillips said that the proposal by anti-corruption group National Integrity Action should receive bipartisan support. "Corruption is not a matter of big dollars versus small dollars. If you will thief 10 dollars, you will thief a million. What we need to do is to find the thief and tek him out of the system and show that the society is against it," asserted Phillips.

According to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, goods and services with a value of up to $500,000 can be contracted directly. Contracts above that threshold require competitive bidding and closer scrutiny.

Phillips warned that failure to eradicate corruption would lead to normalisation among citizens. He added, "It will only open the door for the further proliferation of crime as everybody thinks that anything can be done just to eat a food no matter how much it is in breach of the law."

The opposition leader argued that corruption negatively affects the poor in their quest for social mobility. "If you want to move some things through Customs across the ports so that you can start your likkle business, you haffi let off a money there. It is toughest on the poorest," said Phillips.

Jamaica is ranked 68th out of 180 countries on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index for 2017, up 15 places from its position in 2016.