Sat | Feb 23, 2019

No excuse for corruption - Seaga

Published:Saturday | January 19, 2019 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Metry Seaga

President of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters' Association (JMEA) Metry Seaga on Tuesday challenged other business owners/operators to turn the spotlight on themselves in the fight against corruption.

"When we think corruption, we tend to only focus on the Government and the big scandals. But are we looking within ourselves, here in the private sector? Let's start with something as simple as when we are pulled over on the road by the police. Let's look at our accounting practices in our companies, when we falsify our statements for tax purposes, when we are invoicing goods to trick the Customs Department, and when we want to push through a contract or a permit and decide to pay a man a 'ting'.

"The size of the business is no excuse," he declared. "Whether you are a large, medium, small or micro company, these are unethical practices that ruin us as a country. We must entrench a culture of ethics and good governance within our private-sector businesses and individual lives," Seaga told the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Kingston at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston.

Seaga then went on explain that as a business leader he has an obligation to lead by example, instead of merely telling others what to do, a responsibility he takes seriously.

"The reputation of Jamaica Fibreglass Products Limited and the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters' Association is critical, and that means that I have to behave morally as my ethical behaviour or lack thereof impacts how I do business and whether others will want to do business with me and my company. Warren Buffet said, 'Lose money for the firm, even a lot of money, and I will be understanding. Lose reputation for the firm, even a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless'. And that should apply across the board."

In fact, the behaviour of every Jamaican affects and heavily influences the decision of other countries to do business with the country, hence, everyone should be held accountable in the drive to reduce and stamp out corruption, according to Seaga.

"Both businessmen and members of parliament must be brought to account and held to a high standard of transparency and probity. It is our moral duty, and what is best for the sustainable economic development of Jamaica, that we demand that ethics be at the forefront of our conduct and build the confidence of the population in both the Government and private sector."

While giving the assurance that the JMEA will be uncompromising in its drive to root out corruption, its president conceded that some of the unethical behaviours are rooted in the systemic difficulties associated with business practices in Jamaica. He alluded to personal experiences with the exasperating processing and procedures associated with importing, exporting, loan applications and permits, among others.