Only reforms can end corruption

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Only constitutional reform and a new breed of politicians can release our country from the tentacles of corruption that are suffocating the country.

As an avid reader of Jamaican newspapers from as early as 1966 I came across news about several acts of impropriety across different administrations. From the Maffessanti issues of the Jamaica Labour Party regime of 1967-72 to the now Petrojam scandal it shows that corruption and impropriety are embedded in our governance processes, and no Band-Aid approach can bring back the country to the level of governance of the pre-Independence and the early post-Independence times.

It proves the point that today's perceived level of corruption is directly proportional to the quality of people who sit in our Parliament and the integrity of those who dispense the services of government.

The theory that the electorate is to be blamed for electing them in the first place may not be true, as a whopping 53 per cent of them have distanced themselves from the processes that elect them.

Political parties are equally culpable as their vetting processes for potential parliamentary and local government candidates are flawed and biased towards those who support the leader rather than towards integrity, competency and morality.

If we separate the powers of Government, make it more accountable and efficient, trim the powers of the prime minister and other ministers of government, we would have gone a far way in chopping off the tentacles of corruption.

That, however, is easier said than done, as power is “sweet” and not easy to let go.

Take our prime minister, for example, who has been acting like a 'political guru'. He wields the wand of Mr All-Powerful from his super ministry and believes that he is the answer to our myriad problems. This is where part of our corruption problems lies. If you only trust yourself and those close to you to make the Government more accountable and efficient, then we as a people had better start thinking that we are in this carnival of corruption for the long haul.

As a people we must immediately demand that the Government begins the process of constitutional reform as a matter of priority. We must demand that our Members of Parliament end this scandal after scandal syndrome in our country. They need training and counselling to improve their governance. But no training will fix the corruption if the system facilitates it; hence we need reforms.

Fernandez Smith

Former JLP councillor.

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