Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Go after the ‘Big Fish’ in corruption fight, says Phillips

Published:Wednesday | April 26, 2017 | 4:31 AM
Phillips noted that despite all the passage of legislation, the public’s perception is that corruption in government has not improved.

Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips has urged the Commonwealth Caribbean Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies, to target the proverbial ‘big fish’ or power broker behind corruption as they seek new ways to fight the scourge.

Addressing the opening of the conference by the anti-corruption bodies in New Kingston on Monday, Phillips said corruption has scarred nearly all aspects of life in Jamaica and way too often it is the middle-level officials who are caught and bear the sacrifice; and not the so-called big fish. 

“However, until the system begins to successfully prosecute the ‘big fish’, the public’s perception will continue to be that things have not improved,” Phillips told the audience.

He argued that in many respects Jamaica moved early in the years, after Independence to confront this problem with several pieces of legislation including the Parliamentary Integrity of Members Act which was passed in 1973.

Phillips noted that despite all the passage of legislation, the public’s perception is that corruption in government has not improved.

The Opposition Leader called for the quick establishment of the Single Anti-Corruption Agency and regulations to undertake effective investigation and prosecution of those engaged in corrupt practices as one way of restoring the public’s confidence in the integrity of our institutions.

“Political leadership must redouble its commitment – let me here declare that no corrupt behaviour will be tolerated by any government or party that I lead. Corruption destroys public trust in national Institutions; erodes public participation in public life; and, wastes hard-earned public resources,” said Phillips as he argued that real accountability must be established.

“Prosecutions cannot just be for low level personnel, while high officials only get convictions though rumours and social media postings,” declared Phillips.