Anti-corruption boost

Anti-corruption boost

Integrity Commission gets $108-million gift from UK Government

Friday, November 27, 2020

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Jamaica's chief anti-corruption agency, the Integrity Commission, is to receive a massive cash injection from the United Kingdom as it moves to further strengthen its operations.

The British Government is to provide the commission with approximately $108 million (550,000) over the next two years to enable significant capacity-building at the anti-corruption agency.

Details of the agreement were finalised on Monday with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the UK Government and the commission.

Under the MOU, seven major development activities will be undertaken at the commission, which started operations in February 2018.

These include support to develop the capability for electronic filing of statutory declarations with the commission; procurement of a case management system; procurement of interview equipment; and the preparation of a draft national anti-corruption strategy.

The UK Government will also provide funding for the commission's strategic communication programme; the preparation of drafting instructions for the agency's regulations and proposed changes to the Integrity Commission Act; and training for financial analysts, investigators, and prosecutors.

Funding for this latest agreement with the commission was secured through the 17.25-million Serious and Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Programme (SOCAP) 2020-25, designed to build the capability of public agencies in Jamaica to combat corruption and major organised crime.

Speaking at the signing event held at the Integrity Commission's Oxford Road office, British High Commissioner to Jamaica Asif Ahmad said: “The UK Government remains long-standing, committed partners in the fight against corruption and organised crime. Our development assistance is well aligned with the national priorities of Jamaica. We believe that the work of the Integrity Commission will now be delivered with more intensity and impact.”

In his address, the UK's country representative for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, David Osborne, noted that the twin problems of corruption and organised crime are global, easily crossing borders, and are thought to cost Jamaica six per cent of gross domestic product.

“There are tremendous strides to be made with this latest partnership but I'll highlight that our support will enable the commission to produce and engage the public on Jamaica's first-ever national anti-corruption strategy,” said Osborne.

“This in itself could be a game-changer, because this strategy and its communication is a key tool in ensuring the real cost of corruption is understood,” added Osborne.

Integrity Commission Chairman Justice (Ret'd) Seymour Panton welcomed the assistance from the United Kingdom.

“The Integrity Commission thanks the UK Government for the assistance that it is giving to the Jamaican Government for use in the fight against corruption in Jamaica,” he said.

“No man is an island; no man stands alone, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption requires that all signatory states cooperate with each other in fighting corruption. This contribution by the UK Government is a demonstration of that co-operation,” said Panton.

“The Integrity Commission is comprised of individuals who take their tasks seriously. We took time, amidst much flawed criticism, to fill the vacant positions at the senior level of the commission, and are gradually dealing with the lower positions.

“At present, the commission is engaged in educating and sensitising public officials as regards the behaviour that is expected of them in keeping with the legislation. It is important that everyone be made to realise that there are, and will be, consequences for breaching the legislation,” added Panton.

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