Published On: Mon, Sep 15th, 2014

Addressing corruption in Jamaica a national priority, says minister

Dr.-Peter-PhillipsKINGSTON, Jamaica - Minister of finance and planning, Dr Peter Phillips, says addressing the issue of corruption in Jamaica remains a national priority.

He said public perception of corruption continues to mar the political process in Jamaica, despite the passage of various pieces of legislation and strengthening of extensive requirements for the reporting of incomes by public officials.

“There is perhaps no single issue, which saps public confidence in government than this spectre of corruption and which impedes our capacity for collective action,” he said.

Phillips was delivering the opening address at a conference on the Westminster system of government, held on September 11 at the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) regional headquarters on the Mona campus. He spoke on the topic: ‘Westminster Politics: Democratic Practice and Social Constraints’.

Phillips said the speedy passage of legislation to establish a single anti-corruption agency in Jamaica is key.

He argued that the creation of a body with the requisite powers of investigation and prosecution would ensure even greater transparency and accountability among public officials and result in a reduction in corrupt practices in government.

Establishment of the anti-corruption agency falls under the provisions of the Integrity Commission Bill, which was tabled in Parliament earlier this year.

Under the Bill, the agency will be mandated to promote and strengthen measures for the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of acts of corruption, and to monitor and investigate the award of government contracts and prescribed licences, and to provide for other related matters.

In addition, the Commission will receive declarations from all parliamentarians and public officials relating to their assets, liabilities, and incomes.

The Westminster Conference, organised by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) and the University College, London, is being held from September 11 to 12, under the theme: ‘Beyond Westminster in the Caribbean: Critiques, Challenges and Reform’.

Other notable speakers include former prime minister, Bruce Golding; and prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker

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