Corruption is a global problem - Christie
Today is observed annually as International Anti-Corruption Day. The United Nations calls corruption "a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that affects all countries, that undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability."
The UN General Assembly designated December 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the UN Convention against Corruption in combating and preventing it. The Convention was adopted on October 31, 2003.
Corruption is rampant at just about every level and in every sphere of the Jamaican society, which is one of the reasons the country has failed to make any real improvement in its ranking on Transparency International's Global Corruption Perception Index year after year.
In observance of the day, diGJamaica.com, The Gleaner Company's online-archival and research website, reached out to Greg Christie, former Contractor General and one of the most powerful voices against corruption in Jamaica, for an in-depth interview on the subject. Below is a section of the interview, which can be read in full at www.digjamaica.com/anti_corruption.
Q: Based on your years of experience as both contractor general and an anti-corruption adviser, what are some of the main types of corruption present in Jamaica?
A: Defined generally as the abuse of public office for private gain, and fuelled primarily by dishonest public officials and politicians, corruption, for the most part, is insidious in its very nature and in the way that it operates.
Bribery, extortion, kickbacks, graft, fraud, blackmail, embezzlement, nepotism, cronyism, links between politicians and organised criminal elements, influence peddling, and the abuse of one's public office for political gain, or to pervert the course of justice, are but a few of its direct and indirect manifestations.
Although most jurisprudential systems do not distinguish between types of corruption, there are also degrees of corruption, such as petty corruption and grand corruption. The former arises in instances in which relatively small sums of money are paid to corrupt public officials, to either 'grease the wheels', forgo police-enforcement action for minor infractions of the criminal law, or simply to cut through bureaucratic red tape.
Grand corruption, on the other hand, is typically exhibited in instances in which huge sums of money are fraudulently paid to politicians, or to top-ranking public officials, in order to win high-value government contracts, to secure the divestment of lucrative state assets, or to benefit from the grant of government licenses and permits.
Corruption, in all of its forms, is a global problem that afflicts all countries, and Jamaica is no exception. In countries that are perceived to be highly corrupt, such as Jamaica, the pervasiveness and order of magnitude of corruption will generally be expected to be high.
The fact that there are little or no investigations, prosecutions, and/or convictions for corruption in such countries, will not, ipso facto, negate the reality of its existence. This phenomenon can be attributed to a weak or dysfunctional anti-corruption institutional system; poor rule of law, governance, transparency and accountability standards; and/or an environment that generally supports or encourages impunity on the part of public officials.
No Jamaican needs to speculate as to whether, and to what extent, corruption may have infiltrated the society, or the corridors of our country's government and political leadership. Why? Because none other than the country's incumbent minister of national security, himself, has confirmed his knowledge of it. On May 13, 2014, while speaking in the House of Representatives, he reportedly said that Jamaica's politicians have been complicit in the illicit award of government works contracts to "criminals" who had supported political "party candidates".