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Anti-corruption agency could become a reality

Published:Thursday | March 22, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

THE SINGLE national anti-corruption agency proposed by Contractor General Greg Christie, to fight corruption in Jamaica, is now being given serious consideration by the Portia Simpson Miller administration.

Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding said consultation is now taking place between local stakeholders and Jamaica's bilateral partners to arrive at the most effective approach to tackling corruption in the country.

Golding did not disclose the name of the country that was holding talks with stakeholders on efforts to intensify the drive against corruption.

Quick progress

"I don't want this to linger so I am hoping it can be done very quickly," he told The Gleaner yesterday.

The justice minister revealed that he has set a two-month deadline for the consultation process after which a decision is to be made.

Golding divulged that a document was being prepared by an "outside expert" on behalf of the National Integrity Action Limited to examine the "whole question as to what would be the optimal approach to take, whether to have the single agency or some other construct".

He said the single anti-corruption agency proposed by Christie had some attractions to it with all the resources of at least three oversight bodies residing in one entity.

"I don't think in Jamaica fragmentation of regulation is ideal because we have limited resources, both technical and financial. If you fragment it, you don't get the necessary focus."

According to Golding, the country has not had an impressive record of successfully prosecuting corruption.

However, Golding said he has not ruled out the special prosecutor legislation, but noted that the bill could not return to Parliament in its current state as it was "poorly thought through".

The proposed special prosecutor law was intended to establish the office of the special prosecutor which would have the mandate to investigate corrupt practices in the public and private sectors.

"If we are to proceed with the special prosecutor approach then some intense work will have to be done to get that bill into shape so that it can again be presented in Parliament."

Days after the People's National Party was given a mandate to govern the country, Christie wrote to Simpson Miller urging her administration to give urgent consideration to implementing the single anti-corruption body.

Christie had recommended that the mega anti-corruption agency would be vested with the exclusive mandate to criminally investigate and prosecute all corruption and related criminal offences.

The current commissions of parliament that would comprise the single anti-corruption agency are the Corruption Prevention Commission, the Integrity Commission and the Office of the Contractor General.