'Corruption in Jamaica declining' - But USAID says public perception still strong

Published: Monday | March 16, 2009

There has been a decline in corruption in Jamaica since 2006 says Dr Karen Hilliard, director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Hilliard said the USAID began conducting democracy surveys in Jamaica every other year since 2006. One of those reports revealed that 36 per cent of Jamaicans surveyed had been victims of corruption during the previous year.

"Now, when we repeated that survey in 2008, that figure had dropped to 24 per cent. So it dropped from one in three to one in four.

"When you explain it that way, it doesn't sound all too impressive, but a 12 per cent drop over a year and a half, or over two years, is significant," she explained.

The mission director, however, pointed out that despite the data, the vast majority of Jamaicans still considered the country very corrupt.

"The perception is that the country is very corrupt and, in fact, when you look at this regionally, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the perception of corruption here in Jamaica is exceeded only by the perception of corruption in places like Haiti, Bolivia and Mexico, which we all know are very corrupt places," Hilliard stated.

Continuous clampdown

Relatively speaking, she said, Jamaica was still one of the more corrupt countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, even though it was a far cry from Haiti, which scores at the absolute bottom worldwide.

Hilliard said it was important that the Government continued to hammer away at corruption in Jamaica and make it clear to the public that it was making inroads.

"It is important for people to realise that the situation is far from perfect here and there is much left to be done. No one would deny that, (but) things are moving in the right direction ... . Not just a little bit, (but) significantly," she added.