Tue | Oct 16, 2018

Letter of the Day | Curbing corruption and cronyism

Published:Saturday | April 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

There are two simple measures I suggest be on the agenda for the Vale Royal Talks that can seriously address public-sector corruption and cronyism. These are in the appointment of public-sector boards of directors, and transparency of reporting.

Currently, boards of directors of Government of Jamaica companies and statutory bodies are appointed by ministers responsible for the particular body. These, in almost all cases, have party affiliates or sympathisers and are subject to significant political interference and influence. This is a formula for corruption and is supported by both major parties as the practice has never been broken.

It is recommended that all public-sector boards of directors have appointees where the chairman and three members are selected by the governing party, but three members are also selected by the opposition and three by civil society. In addition, persons chosen to serve must have RELEVANT expertise.

Furthermore, no public-sector board should have an executive chairman, as this puts too much power in the hands of one individual and the possibility for checks and balances is reduced.

The above steps agreed by both major political parties would reduce corruption and ensure continuity in case of a change of government.

Currently, public companies listed on the stock exchange have to publish quarterly reports and financial statements. These are prepared by public-sector bodies also, but these are not made public and are not published, but retained by the ministry they report to, and only if there are positive results or achievements are public announcements of releases sent for publication.

 

Public-sector bodies transparency and reporting

 

All public-sector bodies, including public-sector companies and statutory bodies, should be required to publicise quarterly reports on their operations and accounts, as is done for public companies on the stock exchange. This should be done on their website, which should be updated regularly.

With these two simple steps, corruption and cronyism can be reduced and more transparency will be achieved.

ROBERT STEPHENS

rspragma@yahoo.com