Fri | Dec 13, 2019

Give PM space to paint her legacy

Published:Friday | January 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM

by Collin Greenland, Contributor

Before the dust had even settled after Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's rout of her political adversaries at the polls, great debates began raging over the prospects of this re-elected stateswoman and her Government.

Political prognostications are at best speculative, but we have enough history and knowledge of the protagonists to arrive at reasoned positions. Those of us who have consistently waged battles against the monster of corruption were encouraged by 'Mama P's' unequivocal pronouncements of zero tolerance and intentions to strengthen critical investigative agencies during her second stint at the helm of Government.

Those who doubt her resolve should look back at tapes of the inauguration ceremony at King's House where her kinesics displayed a steely determination, focused steadfastness, and genuine commitment at the commencement of this second tenure.

It may also be instructive to her detractors to revisit the circumstances and stance taken by her leading up to the imprisonment of a former minister of labour, J.A.G. Smith, in 1990 for conspiring to defraud the Farm Work Programme. This writer's research cannot find another example of a Jamaican member of parliament wearing 'short pants' for engaging corruption while as a minister.

No doubt, other, more qualified political analysts will offer their appraisal of JEEP's practicality and effectiveness when more details are unfolded. The cynics may find, however, that their main criticism of JEEP so far, i.e. the lack of details, may well be its main strength. This most famous daughter of Wood Hall, St Catherine, for example, has the flexibility to fill in the details with innovative employment projects as the inspirations and opportunities emerge.

Blank canvas

Some of history's greatest political mavericks have been known to encounter sarcasm and even denunciation on the announcement of visionary plans, but were vindicated when success was achieved.

JEEP may very well be the blank canvas on which this Bachelor of Arts graduate of the Union Institute, Miami, Florida, will paint her employment masterpieces.

Interestingly, some of the nation's most important characters have not only suggested the directions the prime minister should take, but have also postulated how she should go about them.

While others pontificate generalities, the truculent contractor general, Greg Christie, in particular, has pugnaciously expressed in some detail the direction Mrs Simpson Miller should pursue with regard to the China Harbour Engineering Company, National Road Operating and Constructing Company, Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme, the special prosecutor bill, the Integrity Commission, the Corruption Prevention Commission and the Office of the Contractor General.

Anti-corruption warriors like Christie should be cautioned, however, that although we all have in our minds the path to go, this holder of a honorary doctorate of humane letters may have her own perspectives on better solutions, honed from her experience as a councillor, parliamentary secretary, member of parliament, and minister of numerous portfolios.

Tackle corruption

One sure way of enhancing the nation's prospects to make a serious dent in corruption would be for the prime minister to heed this writer's urging to strengthen the fraud examination and forensic capabilities of the multiplicity of government agencies which routinely conduct investigations. These include, for example, the Revenue Protection Department, Taxpayer and Audit Department, Office of the Contractor General, Auditor General's Department, Fraud Squad, Parliament's Public Accounts Committee, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Financial Services Commission, internal audit departments of ministries and statutory bodies.

Another masterstroke would be to contact the chairman of the Audit Commission, Leighton McKnight, to see how the audit committees and internal audit departments of all government ministries can be similarly equipped.

Many who prognosticate the prime minister's prospects acknowledge her proven resilience and political astuteness. Where they may misdiagnose the prospects of her success is by underestimating her intellectual prowess. Many, also, have no idea of her insatiable appetite for work, as it is said that "while the nation sleeps, she works".

Collin Greenland is a forensic accountant. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and cgreeny.collin@gmail.com.