Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Corrupt Jamaica

Published:Sunday | December 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Ronald Mason, Contributor

Jamaicans are corrupt. And Jamaicans are not perturbed by the corruption that surrounds us everywhere, every day.

The widespread acceptance of the need to grease the palm of one who can expedite something we need is to be found at Customs, the tax office, the Registrar General's Department, the Island Traffic Authority, the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, the development process of all parish councils, the NHT, the NIS, to name a few.

In view of this incontrovertible fact, one would be hard-pressed to point to many prosecutions from one of these organisations. Some of these things are tolerated in the name of need, but most is a demonstration of pure greed.

We as a people have now come to accept it as being very insignificant. This past week, at a branch of a major bank, I sat in the line for the drive-through teller and watched a person of some worth walk up to the drive-up window and conduct his transaction. Then comes another person portraying the similar trappings of worth, the big SUV, with the air of comfort and confidence, approach the same drive-through window, on foot.

I by then enquired of the teller why this person was being accommodated to the detriment of those who had been enduring the long wait in the line. No response. When it was my turn, I again asked and was told that was nothing to be asking about.

The next time I needed to use the bank, I went inside, took a number and sat. Numerous persons were served without the teller activating the numerical sequence dial. I asked, and the reply was they were well-known customers who had indicated in advance that they were short on time so could not wait.

Let us look at the contrast with the deputy commissioner of the Jamaica Constabulary Force taking attorneys to task for their challenge to the amendment to the Proceeds of Crime Act, which seeks to breach the principle of attorney-client confidentialities. We as attorneys are now being portrayed as a group siding with the miscreants and crooks. He states how the attorneys will do almost anything to protect the status quo.

This leads to the question of the manner in which some police personnel, not all, thankfully, have come by their gain. I am persuaded that proportionally, there are more corrupt police officers in Jamaica than attorneys. The mistrust deepens. There are large numbers of members of the JCF who cannot get a visa to visit the United States or Canada or the United Kingdom because the intelligence of these countries' operations is more trustworthy than that of the JCF.

Why are there so many drug cells near to police stations all over the island and nothing being done to control them? Could we call it corruption? Deputy Commissioner Glenmore Hinds, let's not have a scattershot approach. Target the suspects and get convictions where applicable.

Why is it that we cannot devise a scheme with body-wired microphone and camera, etc., to ferret out corruption? It is most likely that the failing of 'today fi yuh, tomorrow fi me' is all persuasive. We as a people await our turn to be corrupt. Time to stop. It is almost humorous to see reports of Trevor Munroe making reference to the fact that he is not an angel as he tries to champion the anti-corruption cause. Maybe, just maybe, we need a better-suited messenger.

COCOA INDUSTRY BOARD

There are troubling happenings in the cocoa industry. The purported sale to Michael Lee-Chin of the Cocoa Industry Board (CIB) processes is incomplete. There is no indication that anyone knows when it will be brought to a conclusion, so all other things are at a standstill.

The proposal to divest and allow for the players in the cocoa industry to chart their own free-market operation with a role for the CIB in product integrity has stalled for nearly four years. The legal framework was completed under the previous administration. The late Roger Clarke, as minister of agriculture, spoke to the proposals for a new dispensation. To date, nothing.

Some farmers who supplied wet beans to the CIB from November 2013 have not been paid up to December 2014. The price of cocoa has been rising on the world market. The production in West Africa is negatively impacted by the Ebola outbreak. The demand for fine flavoured cocoa is climbing and we are stuck in a state of indecision. We hear the Government of Jamaica pleading for investment and growth in export, but it refuses, through incompetence, to set the stage to facilitate growth in the cocoa industry.

The transportation and/or fermentation of cocoa are today governed by the CIB, which is moribund, and the 1926 Agricultural Produce Act, with archaic bureaucracy with reference to chief constable of the parish and the resident magistrate for application to transport cocoa beans. One must apply for a transport licence and a works licence to ferment your own crop yield. In addition, we are told to wait, as something will be resolved by the next financial year. God help us all. How inept and incompetent!

Ronald Mason is an immigration attorney and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.