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Transparency International warns that Jamaica faces state capture

Published:Wednesday | December 2, 2009 | 9:04 AM

Global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International has warned that Jamaica is likely to succumb to what it calls state capture.

The term is used to describe a situation where powerful individuals, institutions, companies or groups within or outside a country use corruption to influence policies, the legal environment and economy to benefit their own private interests.

The information is contained in a report which the organization compiled following its five-day visit to Jamaica in September.

While in the country, representatives from the organization held talks with key reformers, on the corruption challenges affecting Jamaica.

The extensive drug and arms trade and associated gang operations in Jamaica, which fuel corruption through bribery, extortion and payoffs were highlighted.

Additionally, the lack of transparency and accountability in the funding of political parties was another issue raised during the dialogue.

It is felt that this could facilitate peddling by elites, and corrupt economic interests.

When combined the group said the two conditions suggest a clear and present danger of state capture in the country.

It has also argued that the extra burden of paying bribes, which amounts to a corruption tax, affects major investment and hinders economic development.

Transparency International was invited by Professor Trevor Munroe, the Director of the National Integrity Action Forum.

The forum was established to bring together leaders from the public and private sectors, and civil society to play their part in the fight against corruption.

Just last month, the global anti-corruption body gave Jamaica another low ranking in its corruption index, for a third consecutive year.