Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Corruption and crime have deep roots in Jamaica

Published:Thursday | February 13, 2020 | 12:14 AM


Election is in the air and the People’s National Party (PNP) has latched on to two issues: corruption and crime. Those of us who lived in Jamaica during the last 30 years know that these twin monsters were conceived and nurtured under 22 years of PNP rule, and we are now reaping the results of their full-blown maturity.

The PNP did nothing to stamp out corruption; on the contrary, it seemed to have encouraged it to the point where corruption became an accepted societal norm which encouraged a belief that it is in our DNA. But corruption is like the tango, it takes two to make it work.

Government officials, employees, contractors and everyone with whom governments do business have to be in cahoots to execute it seamlessly. Someone up or down the ladder must be willing to sign off on overpriced contracts in order get their cut.

no regular audit

When things go wrong, it’s usually a politically connected citizen who ‘stumbles’ upon it. The scores of government agencies in existence don’t seem to do regular audits unless a problem arises.

This results in a bombshell scandal that does the usual ‘nine-day wonder’ rounds on our airwaves, only for the implicated politician/public official to remain in their jobs.

I cannot recall any PNP minister resigning over their myriad scandals, even when one minister had multiple scandals, under his governance.

Conversely, under the Jamaica Labour Party, the Golding administration put in the Corruption Prevention Act and the Integrity Commission. Now Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who passed the Election Finance Law, has clearly shown that he holds his ministers to a higher standard, with ministers having to resign following their accusation.

So, over the last 30 years it is the JLP that has demonstrated the willingness to do something about corruption. Holness does not stop at ignoring an issue with a promise to investigate it; nor does he influence the subsequent investigations. He has demonstrated courage in taking necessary measures to eradicate this cancer from our country.

E. Jack Samuels