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Jamaica falls on corruption perception index

Published:Thursday | December 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Greg Christie blasts government

FORMER CONTRACTOR General Greg Christie has harshly criticised the Government for its seeming lacklustre approach to fighting corruption even as the country slips in the latest corruption perception index (CPI) rankings released by global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI).

In the 2014 CPI, Transparency International reports that Jamaica has fallen two places from 83 out of 177 countries in 2013 to 85 out of 175 countries this year.

Commenting on the latest rankings, Christie argues that the mere passing of International Monetary Fund (IMF) tests will not bring foreign direct investments and sustainable growth to the country "until and unless this issue (corruption) is frontally and proactively addressed".

He noted that Jamaica's poor ranking on TI's Annual CPI for yet another year, should come as no surprise to anyone in the country.

"The Government had promised a 'zero-tolerance' approach to corruption. However, the promise appears to have been honoured more in its breach, than in its observance," Christie asserted.

The former contractor general is contending that the administration has exhibited a clear discomfort with best practises in anti-corruption, good governance, a strong rule of law, transparency and accountability.

Christie restated his long-held view that the fight against corruption begins with exemplary political leadership from the government of the day. "It is defined, at a minimum, by an inflexible adherence to the rule of law and best practices in good governance. But Jamaica is yet to see this from the Government," he added.

He insists that the Jamaican Government needs to take a serious stock of the persistent global and domestic perceptions which say that the country is plagued with a systemic corruption problem.

Integrity Bill Weak

In addition, Christie said that the Integrity Bill that is now before Parliament to establish a single anti-corruption body by merging the Office of the Contractor General, the Integrity Commission and the Corruption Prevention Commission, is a weak Bill. "It will do little to combat Jamaica's endemic corruption problem," he said.

Transparency International's 2014 CPI ranks countries on a scale of zero to 100, where zero means highly corrupt and 100 means very clean.

In 2014, Jamaica recorded a CPI of 38 which means that only Guyana, in the English-speaking Caribbean was ranked lower.

In the 13 years that TI has been ranking Jamaica, the country has averaged a CPI of only 35/100. It has never scored higher than 40/100.

Seven English-Speaking Caribbean Countries were ranked in 2014: Barbados, Bahamas, St Vincent, Dominica, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana.

All were ranked significantly better than Jamaica, except Trinidad and Tobago, which was ranked equally with Jamaica, and Guyana which was ranked at 124/175.