Questions about Jamaica’s movement on the corruption indices

Questions about Jamaica’s movement on the corruption indices

Dorlan H Francis

Sunday, February 05, 2017

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The recent dramatic decline of Jamaica on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) forced me to take a look at that index in an effort to make heads or tails of it and the movement thereon. My findings are alarming. The findings suggest that the CPI is being corruptly used as the next frontier in the political fight for power in Jamaica. In this fight, the People’s National Party, and their surrogates who dominate life in Jamaica, are winning.

Transparency International (TI) was established in 1993. The way it works is best described in their own words as they appeared in its first press release of July 15, 1995: "The organisation was established two years ago to raise awareness of international corruption and to create a coalition of interests from both the public and the private sectors to combat it. The index will appear annually and is a ‘poll of polls’," explained Dr Peter Eigen, chairman of TI, in releasing the survey.

"It is an assessment undertaken for us by a specialist economist, Dr Johann Graf Lambsdorff of the University of Göttingen, in which existing polls of international business interests and financial journalists have been analysed and collated. It is thus a picture of how international business sees the levels of corruption in the 41 countries ranked in the survey."

To the extent that countries have problems with their rankings, this lay not with the index, but rather with the perceptions international business have of the state of affairs in those countries, he explained.

The salient points of the above statement is that the report is based on a "perception" — not reality. This needs to be emphasised in the Jamaican context, as some of the contributors to this perception are financial journalists. Some of these journalists are biased and crooked and have consistently favoured one party over the other in Jamaica.

In analysing the above table, little emphasis will be based on the ranking, since countries were progressively added to the index. This renders comparative analysis based on ranking useless. The ranking was included just as a statement of fact and for brief references. What will be of importance is the CPI score that was assigned each year.

Jamaica was added to the CPI in 2002 and it got a score of 40. At that time, the score was from 1 to 10; it was subsequently changed and was scored out of 100. The actual score in 2002 was 4.0, which really was 40 per cent. So, 40 is the benchmark score. It is significant to note that P J Patterson was the then prime minister. The score fell to 38 the following year, then to 33 in 2004. In 2005, the score improved to 36, and in 2006 it improved further to 37. This indicates a clearly improving trend.

Then a remarkable thing happened. On September 11, 2007 the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), led by Orrette Bruce Golding, won the elections and assumed office. By December 31, 2007, the JLP was in office for 111 days. I do not think the members of the Government had finished setting up their offices. Having been in Opposition for 18.5 years I would assume that the members of the Government were still orientating themselves with the workings of government. But TI, based on the garbage they were fed, would have us believe that corruption which was getting better — suddenly turned around -and merited a score of 33.

During the Bruce Golding years, meaningful initiatives were taken to fight corruption. The Independent Commission of Investigations was established and meaningful efforts were taken to curtail police corruption. The Bail Act and Jury Act were changed in an effort to curtail crime and to secure justice. Nevertheless, in spite of those efforts, the corruption score fell further to 31 in 2008 and to 30 in 2009. In 2010 and 2011 the scores grudgingly increased to 33 for those respective years.

In 2012, the Government changed, and with not a single initiative aimed at curtailing corruption the score jumped up to 38, and it remained 38 for 2013 and 2014. And then, with electoral finance law and other anti-corruption laws still languishing in Parliament, the score rose further to 41 in 2015 - this at a time when a general election was in the offing.

The Gleaner of Thursday, January 28, 2016 had the following headline: ‘Jamaica seen as less corrupt...Report could spur increased investment, says Munroe’.

"Executive director of the National Integrity Action (NIA) Professor Trevor Munroe says the prospects for increased investments and job creation in Jamaica have been enhanced by the country’s significant jump by 16 places on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI)."

Jamaica was seen by whom as less corrupt? What did Jamaica do to warrant the movement of the score up to 41 and a fall in the ranking to 69? Was it because in 28 days of the report there was going to be an election?

The real mindboggling development was yet to come. Having moved the score to 41 for no rhyme or reason except that an election was in the offing, the score was again lowered to 39 with the ranking rising back to 83 - where apparently it rightfully belongs - the moment the JLP was returned to office. What did the JLP do in nine months to earn this lower score?

It should be clear to all that the CPI is being corruptly manipulated. The irony of it — a corruption measuring index is being corruptly used. The manipulation of the CPI would suggest that the People’s National Party is a less corrupt party — being the party on whose watch the two highest scores of 40 and 41 were obtained — and the JLP is a more corrupt party — being the party on whose watch the lowest scores were obtained.

Every Jamaican dead, living or just born knows that this cannot be so — perception or otherwise. This is like saying water is dry and the air is wet! This mind manipulation game must stop.

Jamaicans must reject this corrupt practice with the ferocity with which they condemn pastors who have carnal knowledge of young girls!

Dorlan H Francis is a personal financial adviser and author. Among his books is
The Economic and Financial Crisis of 2007 - What Caused it : How to Avoid a Repeat.
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