Jamaica Cannot Achieve Prosperity With High Levels of Corruption

THE recent release by transparency international of yet another corruption perception report gives grim reading for Jamaica.

Out of a possible 100 Jamaica scored 38, giving it the rank of 85 out of a possible 175 countries. Each country’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Transparency international has this to say about corruption and its effect: Poorly equipped schools, counterfeit medicine and elections decided by money are just some of the consequences of public sector corruption. Bribes and backroom deals don’t just steal resources from the most vulnerable – they undermine justice and economic development, and destroy public trust in government and leaders. 

A poor score is likely a sign of widespread bribery, lack of punishment for corruption and public institutions that don’t respond to citizens’ needs.

Image Source: nationofchange.org
Image Source: nationofchange.org

Bribes and backroom deals don’t just steal resources from the most vulnerable – they undermine justice and economic development, and destroy public trust in government and leaders. I repeated for emphasis and it rings of truth in the Jamaican context. Jamaica is suffering from many social ills. Jamaica ha become a corrupt nation, where persons are now forced to pay bribes to get basic things done.

  

While corruption in the public sector is bad, governmental corruption is worse, much worse! Governmental corruption not only robs the country of scarce resources but it also impoverishes the country, leading to greater levels of crime,violence, and greater levels of hopelessness. In Jamaica we have seen shrinking levels of participation in the electoral process over the last twenty plus years and corruption is a major player in this turn off. Why? Many Jamaicans feel, with justification that once a party wins state power it will look after its friends first, middle and last, to the detriment of everybody else. So the mindset becomes: “Why am I  going out to select a government when I get nothing in return? I get no roads, water or electricity and most importantly I have no jobs to go to. So why bother? All I see is a certain set of people linked to the governing party who were once “mawga” get fatter with each passing day. I am not going to vote.”

That sort of cynicism cannot is not good for our democracy as it will lead to only a minority selecting a government, and that is the die hard, as everybody else will lose the desire vote. With that in mind, a country dominated by corruption will always continue to be corrupt if more and more persons are turned off from the electoral process.  When one looks at the last election percentages it immediately hits home that Jamaica is in serious trouble with voting. A minority of clearly die hard supporters went out to vote and the PNP won by a landslide.

In a corrupt society I believe the most corrupt party has the most die hard supporters. And it’s not an issue of partisanship. It’s one of common sense. From the Cuban light bulb scandal,the  Iran sugar deal, right upto the recent corruption scandal engulfing the Hanover Parish council whereby it is alleged the former mayor gave to her family members contracts valued at millions of dollars, according to the contractor General’s report.

Furthermore, while corruption runs amok, economic growth is stagnant. Why is that so? There is a direct link between a lack of economic growth and high levels of corruption. The money necessary to create a favourable investment climate isn’t being used to create it. It is  siphoned off through cost overruns. Furthermore, investors, local and overseas have no appetite to invest in a country riddled with corrupt public officials. That leads to another problem- high levels of debt. High levels of debt is the natural outcome of no growth.  When a country isn’t producing to maintain itself it has to borrow to stay afloat. So isn’t it quite obvious corruption in government serves no useful purpose?

When it comes on to trust in Jamaica, It’s very difficult to find politicians that Jamaicans trust. Just walk through Jamaica and ask any neutral or sensible Jamaican and they will tell you: “We do not trust the government, because they are corrupt!” It’s a sorry state of affairs.

But transparency international didn’t stop there:

Countries with lower scores need to adopt radical anti-corruption measures in favour of their people. Countries at the top of the index should make sure they don’t export corrupt practices to underdeveloped countries.”

  

– José Ugaz, Chair,
Transparency International – “Countries at the bottom like Jamaica need to adopt radical anti-corruption measures in favour of their people”.

Don’t hold your breath, as under this government that will never happen. This government is averse to good governance and will not lift a straw to enable Jamaica to get rid of corruption, as that is how it feeds its high profile supporters that pump back that money into fighting the party’s elections. Radical corruption prevention policies will lead to alienation of those that feed off the state like parasites, sucking the life out it to get rich. By looking at the national solid waste agency and the Jamaican urban transit company one can immediately understand the impact that corruption has on this country. It is said that enough money is not given to the NSWMA, yet still from all indications, officially and otherwise, the small amounts of money being allocated was being  high jacked by corruption- and the consequence of that was a massive fire that raged out of control for many days recently. Strong anti-corruption institutions result in lower levels of corruption.

Another glaring example of the lack of will power to fight corruption is the recent Outameni land deal by the NHT, and the refusal of the government to sack the board that inked that deal even after vociferous public outcry. And to add insult to injury, the government appointed a new board recently and reappointed some of the same people that wasted over 200 million dollars! Incredible! This present government knows nothing about fighting corruption. It has not the will, or the penchant to do so and until it is removed from office, we will not see any moves to rid Jamaica of the parasite call corruption.

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