Tue | Feb 18, 2020

Ja in danger of corruption blacklist, Phillips warns

Published:Saturday | February 9, 2019 | 1:08 AM

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

Political leaders must come under greater scrutiny if Jamaica is to be wrested from the grips of corruption, Dr Peter Phillips has warned, predicting that the economy could see darker days if the Government continues to misuse public funds.

Referencing the unfolding nepotism scandal at oil refinery Petrojam, which has triggered a rash of high-profile resignations, Phillips, the opposition leader, argued that the political directorate was complicit in incentivising corruption.

“The money that gets siphoned off into the pockets of a few is money that would be of vital use in repairing our health system, educational system, and our security services system” said Phillips, speaking at a Manchester Chamber of Commerce meeting on Thursday.

“It is the cause of the loss of Jamaica’s reputation as stated in the Corruption Perception Index, and Jamaica’s standing in the world in that regard has lowered between last year and this year, and they specifically mention Petrojam in their findings.”

Phillips, a former minister of finance, said that corruption remained a major impediment to growth, inhibiting investor interest and potentially blacklisting the country.

“Bad money drives out good. Any country that becomes known to be a haven for corruption will find that the name-brand investors of the world … will stay away.”

Phillips argued that recent disclosures, ranging from the misuse of funds in the relocation of the Ministry of Local Government, to the $17-million Montego Bay welcome sign, to an investigation into cronyism at National Energy Solutions Limited, are evidence of state mismanagement and indifference.

“… It (the money) could have hired an additional 25 teachers for a year … . This is the consequence of the mismanagement and corruption and our ability to grapple with the real problems,” he told the audience.