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Three reasons Jamaica slipped in 2021 corruption ranking

Published:Tuesday | January 25, 2022 | 3:20 PM
Munroe: Jamaica should now build a coalition of the vast majority who do not benefit from diversion of public funds into corrupt pockets but who suffer

Principal director of the National Integrity Action (NIA) Professor Trevor Munroe has asserted that Jamaica's score and rank on the 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) reflect “hard won gains” and “deeply disappointing deficits”.  

In the ranking released today, Jamaica fell to 70th in 2021 from 69th out of 180 countries in 2020.

READ: Jamaica slips one place in global corruption ranking

However, the corruption score remained at 44, where 0 is considered highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. 

Here are three reasons the NIA says contributed to the ranking:

1. The gag order, which bans the Integrity Commission from telling the public who it is investigating for corruption or wrongdoing.

2. Unacceptable delay in the fulfilment of anti-corruption and anti-crime agreements of the Consensus Management Oversight Committee in August 2020. 

  • Two of the critical elements were not achieved on target, in accordance with the timelines in 2021. These were the unexplained wealth orders, which would allow our courts to issue such orders as they do in the United Kingdom to facilitate those with illicit wealth having the burden of explaining where they got it from.

3. The continuing failure to hold to bring before the courts, high level officials, members of boards and executives of public bodies, responsible for gross violations of the Procurement Act and the Public Bodies Management Accountability Act.

  • The December 2021 tabulation on the Cabinet Secretary's website discloses that three of every four public entities are in breach of the law requiring the submission of their annual report and audited financials to the responsible minister and the parliament. The impunity of these offenders continues despite a 2020 memo from the Financial Secretary to chronic offenders.

Munroe says Jamaica should now build a coalition of the vast majority who do not benefit from diversion of public funds into corrupt pockets but who suffer because their roads are not properly repaired, contracts are awarded to political friends instead of competent contractors, the water supply system is not what it should be and the police themselves have to do more to get rid of the corruption within their ranks.

The NIA boss commended investigative journalists, the auditor general's office, MOCA investigators, members of parliament and civil society organisations for the work they have been doing to tackle corruption. 

“We wouldn't have known so much about Nutrition Products Limited and the abuses there, the Airports Authority of Jamaica and the Clarendon Alumina Production had it not been for the work of our journalists,” Munroe said. 

He hailed as gains, the full independence of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) in 2021.

Munroe also cited the passage of the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act which now requires merit-based appointments and steps towards greater accountability with the resignation of members of boards and public bodies found in breach of law. 

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