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LETTER OF THE DAY - Professional dishonesty

Published:Monday | October 11, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

The flood rains across the island in recent weeks bring into sharp focus the challenge that professional dishonesty poses for government budgeting.

The damage shown by the TV cameras, combined with government estimates of the cost to repair the damage, tells us that either there is compromise of professional integrity or there is rank incompetence among those who approve or supervise projects or works. For they have sacrificed high-quality and efficient work on the altar of expediency to leave the country much poorer indeed.

Shoddy public works

The anecdotes that go around in the neighbourhood compel one to accept that corruption, greed, selfishness, poor community spirit and a shortcut to what can be considered 'lavish creature comforts' might be more to the point than incompetence. How else could the personnel of approving authorities grant approvals to so much shoddy public works?

Observe the many housing schemes island-wide that disregard environmental considerations and are approved only to be flooded out later; poor road construction techniques that persist in spite of their obvious deficiencies; and what about the sloppiness in bridge construction that have resulted in many communities being marooned in recent times, because of the poorly constructed bridges that were easily washed away? Study the construction costs of these projects and we will find that invariably there were major delays and cost overruns.

I was simultaneously very sad and angry when I saw the devastation that was visited on some families, in the loss of their loved ones and worldly possessions, when their homes were washed away from the gully banks. Why did the authorities turn a blind eye to houses when they were going up on Cassava Piece and Sandy Park gully banks, for example? Will those who are responsible blame political pressure or staff shortage? What about the ignoring of broken water mains that sent millions of gallons of water cascading daily down the roadways, no matter how many times the National Water Commission was called by the residents in the affected communities?

All these things happen because there are professionals who are quite willing to collect pay for jobs that are waiting still to be done. This is professional dishonesty.

I predict that in light of this prevailing culture, the country's budget deficit and debt will grow. This implies that, for the foreseeable future, Jamaica will always have to borrow (never mind the conditionalities) to maintain the lifestyle of its mostly unproductive people.

I am, etc.,