Sun | Nov 17, 2019

Munroe: Break the chain of corruption

Published:Tuesday | December 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Professor Trevor Munroe

Without corrupt practices and the stubborn, yet high crime rate, Jamaica's economy could have been three to 10 times bigger, according to Professor Trevor Munroe, executive director, National Integrity Action.

While addressing the Jamaica Customs Agency in recognition of International Anti-Corruption Day, Munroe urged the police to go after the covert operators in corrupt practices with the same zeal as they would a man who steals ackee, making them accountable for their actions.

"It is time to convict the big-money handlers with equal zeal as one would the ackee thief. The prosecution of the corrupt has to be a part of the process," he said.

The United Nations estimates that US$1 trillion is paid in bribes to persons entrusted with authority across the world, including countries in the Caribbean and that US$2.6 trillion is stolen from the global economy.

Munroe said that the theme, 'Corruption Robs Us All, Let's Break the Chain', is not something that the Jamaican authorities have failed to recognise over the years, both in the past and in the past few days, alluding to the damning auditor general's report on the corrupt practices at Petrojam that was tabled in Parliament earlier in the week.

He said that Ministry Paper Number 63, titled A New Approach: National Security Policy of Jamaica, Towards a Secure and Prosperous Nation, estimates that the economy is one-third of the size it should have been. It might be only one-tenth of the size it could have been, if we had more effective control of crime and corruption.

"It means that customs officers, police officers, teachers, and the public servants across our country, all things being equal, could have three to 10 times the compensation packages they now have. So when we speak of robbing, we are talking about serious business. We are talking about an economy whose size could be three to 10 times what it is.

"Some of those who profit from crime appear to be respectable citizens; they are facilitators, lawyers, accountants, politicians, bankers, the real-estate brokers who assist the criminals by laundering their proceeds of crime, establishing front businesses to conceal illegal activities, investing criminal profits in legitimate enterprises," noted Munroe.

According to Munroe, these official insights are from four years ago. "What about official insights of three days ago?" he queried.

Munroe pointed out that the auditor general's reports over the last five years state that "Petrojam recorded total estimated oil losses of two million barrels, approximately $18 billion, 184,951 barrels in 2018 alone".

"Petrojam's annual unaccountable oil loss of 0.75 per cent is almost two times its own key performance indicator of 0.40 per cent. Where did all this oil go? To whom did this oil go?" Munroe asked.

"They feel they can 'eat a food' then resign. It must stop," he said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com