Wed | Jan 17, 2018

Don't taint public works with party patronage

Published:Monday | December 12, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Until that long-off day when there is full employment in Jamaica, the government of the day will always come up with a scheme (Christmas work, crash programme, JEEP, de-bushing project), ostensibly for the purpose of helping the unemployed poor and needy.

Few would protest giving the chronically unemployed some temporary work from time to time, though there could be some arguments regarding the nature/type of work and the productivity yields.

The perception, or fact, that the work is distributed in a manner to secure political advantage for the party that forms the government elicits howls of protest from the opposition party, which, whenever it forms the government, does the exact same thing.

While we await the day of full employment, could we devise a method for distributing temporary work that is both fair and transparent?


Official verification


Make it a requirement that anyone seeking such work present a government-issued ID card. Proof of residence in the constituency where the work is to be done, using the voters' list or other documentary proof, should be the second requirement.

After appropriate verification by an official, each ID is placed in a transparent box. With the contents stirred, the official, with blindfolds on, takes from the box the required number, one at a time. The official must not be a member of parliament, parish councillor, caretaker, political activist. Instead, the official should, preferably, be someone approved by Professor Trevor Munroe's National Integrity Action group.

All this is to be transacted in full view of the hopeful aspirants, the public and the media. How is that for fairness and transparency?

Fairness eliminates political advantage in the way light eliminates darkness.

Will a government ever adopt a fair selection process and thereby forgo political advantage, or will the status quo always stand? That's the question.

Is there someone who doesn't know the answer?


Stony Hill, St Andrew