Monday, November 4, 2013

All hands needed to fight corruption

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Professor Trevor Munroe

Jamaica Observer column excerpt - Mon 4 November 2013: Many businesses have stopped tendering when certain entities contact them. I understand that the disease of corruption has spread to some of the most unexpected places, as there are individuals 'harvesting' the best ideas they can find to give their friends, or insisting on under-the-table arrangements.
Corruption is evident when you notice managers almost hostile to honest, hard-working companies, constantly cutting their budgets, while overly chummy with big-budget colleagues who get away with sloppy, expensive work.

In this tough future, not only must business owners try to forget past injustices, but also to work with these very 'pirates', as we fight, tooth and nail, to protect the jobs of hard-working employees.
When I asked a colleague who recently lost several contracts based on manufactured reasons if I could mention the company in my column, I was told: "Are you crazy? I don't want to get shot."
Professor Trevor Munroe, head of the National Integrity Action (NIA), had the distinction of being chosen to be a speaker at the Rhodes Trust 110th anniversary commemoration of the Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, in late September. His topic was 'Fighting the World's Fight -- Against Corruption for Integrity'.
"Both the signs and the consequences of corruption tell us why this has to be the world's fight," said Professor Munroe. He noted:
"According to the World Bank, over one trillion dollars are paid in bribes each year by the private sector to secure contracts and permits... One consequence: faulty construction often leading to buildings collapsing; another, permits being given to build in areas damaging to the environment...
He also mentioned that "at the non-governmental level, the World Council of Churches, bringing together church fellowships in 110 countries... and representing more than 500 million Christians is supporting a global call to action against corruption".
"The World Council of Churches has issued a call in which they state 'illegal tax evasion will be responsible for 5.6 million children dying in developing countries between 2000 and 2015'. In Jamaica this illegal tax evasion is depriving government of funds to properly equip hospitals, stock clinics, provide more meals for deprived schoolchildren, etc."
The church in Jamaica has more power than it probably realise. Should the church decide to address this issue of corruption with energy, I believe it could usher in a sea change for Jamaica. Do not wimp out, dear church colleagues -- the account of Jesus's expulsion of illicit moneylenders from God's temple should inspire us all.

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