Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Casual on corruption - Contractor general alarmed as survey finds youth accepting corrupt activities as normal

Published:Sunday | January 29, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gillpin
Contractor General Dirk Harrison (left), in talks with Paul Scott, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica last Tuesday.

Worrying statistics from a recent survey have prompted Contractor General Dirk Harrison to make an urgent call to assist young Jamaicans to shy away from acts of corruption.

Harrison noted that the survey, conducted by his office, involved 1,262 students from the primary and secondary level. It was done to determine whether youth perceive corruption as harmful to the society.

According to Harrison, the majority of youth surveyed said that the greatest arm of corruption was towards the development of business and the economy.

Other key findings showed that 43.7 per cent of the respondents were exposed to behaviour deemed corrupt to avoid a particular problem. In addition, 40.4 per cent agreed that telling the truth is not valued in Jamaica, while 38.8 per cent witnessed persons engaged in corrupt activities to get out of trouble at home.

The contractor general argued that it is even more critical that youngsters are sensitised to the negative impacts of corruption from very early as 30 per cent were exposed at school and 20 per cent engaged in some corrupt activity to pass an exam.

On the other hand, 70 per cent agreed that lottery scamming was harmful to the Jamaican society.


Urgent interventions


He said that urgent interventions are required if the country is to break the cycle among young people as once this is achieved, there will be exponential growth and development.

"As the experts indicated, it is no different from what the adults think. So if our children think this way, then we can understand why we are in the hole we are in. It is something for serious consideration," said Harrison.

He stressed the significance of collaboration among stakeholders, noting that corruption is a serious issue that can further stifle development.

"We at the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) have maintained our independence. We have executed our functions, I believe, and we are convinced that it is impossible for the office to truly execute its mandate without the participation of the Jamaican citizenry, the public, the private sector, and most importantly, our international partners," Harrison said.

"It is my firm my belief that in order for us to move forward, we need to consider that the OCG must be pivotal to the fight against corruption in Jamaica. It's important to note that no one agency can single-handedly tackle corruption.

"It requires all state actors and non-actors. It requires resources and effective coordination in areas of information sharing and intelligence gathering," added Harrison.

Jamaica was placed at 83 out of 176 countries on the annual Corruption Perception Index released last Tuesday by Transparency International.

This reflects a drop of a nominal 14 places when compared to last year and showed the country scoring 39 out of 100, down from 41 last year. Countries scoring less than 50 on the index are deemed to have a serious corruption problem.