We must send a strong message against corruption

BY Kimberly Roach

Friday, December 07, 2018

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It is more evident that Jamaica's corruption culture is stink and permeates all social aspects of our young society.

One in 10 Jamaicans reported that they were subject to corruption in the past 12 months in 2017, this was reported by a LAPOP research conducted by The University of the West Indies in partnership with Vanderbilt University. Interestingly, 97 per cent of those Jamaicans also believed that Jamaican politicians are corrupt.

With the Petrojam report on the tips of our tongues these days it is clear that Jamaicans may have been justified in their response.

As a country, we are quite aware of what corruption is and the cross-national effects and reach. Nonetheless, corruption is sadly a norm within our culture and sometimes we brush if off as “eating a food”. By any estimation corruption caused Jamaica many losses in our developmental indices. We must strategically kill this culture of corruption if we are going to become the developed, First-World country we talk so much about.

One of the recommendations put forward to solve the culture of corruption is how we treat high-level corruption. The best example of this is certainly the very fresh Petrojam case. The gross mismanagement of the institution led to losses totalling many billions. The current Government needs to put its foot down by launching an in-depth investigation and charge all responsible parties. The message must be sent that no one gets away with corruption. This is an important time within our history, and if the next generation should reject our history of corruption we must set a precedence now by acting hard on high-level corruption.

Corruption has long had its effects on our society; consequently, it is engrained how we carry out normal transactions. The tax office, over the years, has been known to be a centre of corruption for the small man trying to speed up his wait time for a simple transaction.

The auditor general should also be able to assess some of these institutional processes and create a 'non-corruption zone', where possible. If caught committing any form of corruption there must be strong policy and legislative repercussions for offenders. We must be hard on all forms of corruption, including cutting the line for any service.

Equity, inclusion and general poverty reduction depends on our future relationship with corruption. I hope Jamaica is finally ready to reject this relationship so we can achieve the developmental goals we've set for ourselves. It is time now we send a strong message to our ingrained culture of corruption.


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