The island of Jamaica is now confronted with the issue of corruption, a dilemma that the society has never seen before. This predicament is coming from outside as well as inside forces. Against this quandary of disorder, Professor at the University of the West Indies, Dr. Trevor Munroe established the National Integrity Action, (NIA), in 2011 as an anti-corruption local organization to help combat the surge of this plight.
Dr. Munroe as the executive director of the NIA is at the helm of identifying areas to help eliminate the soaring problem as well as to find areas of conflict and mismanagement that the NIA can expose to the public. The goal is to diminish this social plague in the society. As the featured speaker at the 12th Annual Caribbean Lecture Series at the Schomburg Center in Harlem, last Thursday, Nov. 17, Dr. Munroe described the ill-effects that corruption is having and will have on the Jamaican society if not stopped.
The audience, overwhelming Jamaicans, coherently gasped as Professor Munroe explained the devastation this has had on the Jamaican society. Munroe noted that the corruption has caused extensive damage to the public and their view of public management. “It is imperative that we get commitment from officials to defeat corruption. It hurts the poor tremendously. As this has been an illicit gain at the expense of the public,” the NIA executive said.
According to Dr. Munroe, the corruption has created economic hardship affecting the entire society to thrive. “It is a threat to democracy and it undermines the development of the Jamaican society.” Munroe continued, “There is an urgency to tackle this mode as the corruption prevents competitiveness in the market and prevent businesses from excelling.”
In addition, Professor Munroe also noted that there are effects including the lack of trust and confidence that now prevails in the justice system. In this regard, he called for stiffer legislation to strengthen the anti-corruption drive. He also called for more transparency from politicians and the public officials. “Too much money is being lost which could have gone to public programs, too many connections to criminals,” Munroe added.
Regarding tax evasion, Professor Munroe called for laws to be activated and have individuals be accountable for avoiding tax rules. “Reorganize youths, strengthen parenting skills and develop social organizations that can help identify the corruption,” the executive director suggested. He told the audience that people should not be afraid to speak out on issues of corruption in the society. “We have been able to identify some corruption by bringing awareness to the public through television ads, documentaries and bill boards,” Munroe stated.
Dr. Munroe noted that a special prosecutor to deal with corruption in the society is currently been dealt with in the Jamaican parliament as well. Professor Munroe noted also that 70 percent of the Jamaican public wants to join an anti-corruption organization. “This requires more work, needs a coming together, partnership from the business community to join an alignment and speak out.” For this, Dr. Munroe called on the Jamaica Diaspora to engage in deeper dialogue and form task forces to help strengthen the progress made.
The professor noted that if the anti-corruption drive is achieved, Jamaica has the capability, the determination and the capacity to share in the world class level of prosperity. Dr. Munroe asked that the Diaspora partners with the National Integrity Action to destabilize the elements of corruption that have crept into areas of the Jamaican public.