Thu | Jan 17, 2019

No more private sector free ride!

Published:Sunday | December 21, 2014 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris

Private sector entities engaged in corrupt practices are to face greater scrutiny next year when the anti-corruption watchdog, the National Integrity Action (NIA), begins to place more focus on corporate entities.

Addressing a recent Editor's Forum at the Gleaner's North Street office, executive director of the NIA, Professor Trevor Munroe, admitted that anti-corruption agencies have been giving the private sector a free ride.

"In our opinion, there has been insufficient focus on the use of market power and too much focus on public power, especially with the recent global financial crisis," said Munroe.

"There is no doubt now that (the global financial crisis) had to do with the abuse of market power by the international transactional banks, many of whom have been fined but nobody has been imprisoned as far as I know," added Munroe.

Big business corrupt

Pointing to a Don Anderson poll conducted locally, the NIA head noted that a very high percentage of Jamaicans believe that big businesses are involved in corruption.

According to Munroe, the NIA, which receives some funding from local corporate entities, believes that the private sector has a role to play in combating corruption by taking a zero-tolerance approach.

"Through their actions and attitudes towards corruption, the business community can promote fair competition by working together and supporting countries in developing and strengthening the public anti-corruption infrastructure," said Munroe.

Since being registered in 2011, the NIA has focused on public officials with its mandate to raise levels of national integrity and to combat corruption more effectively in Jamaica.

The entity has long argued that the perception of Jamaicans and of the international community is that corruption is unacceptably high in Jamaica and that the corrupt must be deterred, detected and punished.

"There is no question of inefficiency and incompetence when I come out of Ligueanea Pharmacy and a man says 'boss, is only green shirt man them and is only orange shirt man them a get contract or jobs', that is clear unmitigated corruption," argued Professor Munroe.

"It is against the Corruption Prevention Act in Jamaica, it is against the Political Code of Conduct and we intend in the election season that is going to come up in relation to local government election and later on to really make this a centrepiece. There is no incompetence there. That is just rampant corruption," he explained.