Fri | Apr 3, 2020

No vote of confidence - Jamaicans not happy with efforts of anti-corruption watchdog

Published:Tuesday | February 25, 2020 | 12:25 AM

As the island’s two-year-old Integrity Commission struggles to distinguish itself as a decisive campaigner against graft, a recent RJRGLEANER-commissioned Don Anderson poll has revealed that fewer Jamaicans have confidence in the oversight body to carry out its task than those who believe in the effectiveness of the anti-corruption watchdog.

The poll revealed that 37 per cent of Jamaicans had no confidence in the Integrity Commission, while 35 per cent have thrown their support behind the oversight body.

Head of the National Integrity Action (NIA), Professor Trevor Munroe, said that the poll findings indicated the need for the commission to take urgent action to fulfil one of the principal objects as set out in the law.

According to Munroe, Section 3 (d) of the act states that the commission should “enhance public confidence that acts of corruption … will be appropriately investigated and dealt with in a manner that achieves transparency, accountability and fairness”.

“The majority clearly do not feel the Integrity Commission is dealing with corruption in the manner required by law and long advocated by not only NIA but by the IMF in its review of Jamaica’s performance in April 2019,” Munroe added.

The NIA boss charged that in practical terms, this meant that the director of corruption prosecutions should promptly lay charges against whoever is cited for sanction in the Petrojam investigation report, regardless of status or connections.

The findings of the poll come weeks after Transparency International released the results of its 2019 Corruption Perception Index, which positioned Jamaica as the fourth most corrupt state among Caribbean countries ahead of Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Haiti.

The 2019 index showed Jamaica scoring 43, one place lower than the 44 it recorded in 2018, in a context where zero is deemed very corrupt and 100 very clean.

With a score of 43, the country’s ranking has dipped sharply from 70 to 74 out of 180 countries.

Anderson interviewed 1,038 persons between February 8 and 18. The margin of error is plus or minus three per cent.

Another 27 per cent of respondents told Anderson that they did not know or were not sure, when asked if they had confidence in the commission.

The Sunday Gleaner reported that less than two weeks ago, the commission submitted the case files of at least six parliamentarians who have been delinquent in furnishing the oversight body with their annual declarations of income, assets and liabilities to the director of corruption prosecutions, Keisha Prince. The lawmakers, on both sides of the political divide, are in breach of the anti-corruption laws.

The Integrity Commission replaced a commission by a similar name, as well as the now-defunct Office of the Contractor General. It also now carries out the role of the former Commission for the Prevention of Corruption.