Cut the platitudes
The Editor, Sir:
The Gleaner's Sunday, April 18, editorial speaks to what the prime minister and Opposition leader must do to help fight crime. The Gleaner which has the attention of (pretty much) all of Jamaica and many sections of the world, suggest that the political leaders 'interview' their members to determine if they have ties to gangs and such. What absolute symbolic rot!
Where are the practical solutions that are required? Where are the teeth that are to be given to the law-enforcement agencies that can, over a period of time, put an end to this culture of violence? Might I suggest a few:
1. Triple the fines and impose minimum 10-year prison sentences for any public servant charged with misuse of public funds. Fines should be indexed to the rate of inflation since the dollars used in corrupt practices certainly will.
2. If the public servant is an elected official or a law enforcer, the minimum sentence should be 15 years.
3. Use extradition agreements to cement safe havens for witnesses to crime. These should be permanent relocations of witnesses and their families: let Washington put its immigration policy where it's mouth is. In addition, enact the necessary legislation to allow for video-conference testimony and other such channels to facilitate witness relocation.
4. Extend the seizure of property to those found guilty of misuse of government funds. This should include the corrupt civil servant and the contractors involved.
5. Allocate ten per cent of the money recovered to the whistle-blower. Make it profitable to be an informer!
6. Any person convicted of a crime should be exempt from government contracts.
7. Convert the Contractor General's Department into a procurement department for all of the government agencies.
8. Ensure that every vendor that the Government uses is fully tax-compliant and that every government employee (including consultants) is up-to-date on tax payments. Any payments to any entities should be minus any taxes owed to the government. If the Government is to be honest in its dealings, the taxpayer must be in theirs.
These are by no means original or ingenious ideas. They are, however, practical and will have an immediate impact on the situation. Let's stop the platitudes and get down to actions that are needed.
I am, etc.,
BRUCE W. MCKNIGHT