St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): A lack of transparency in government and the private sector takes a heavy toll on a society according to the Director of National Integrity Action in Jamaica, Professor Trevor Munroe.
“Corruption, lack of transparency, lack of accountability has a huge cost on people not only in the Caribbean but in different democracies around the world is when public contracts, normally the money paid by taxpayers, are awarded not to the most experienced, technically qualified, but rather to those who are most connected either by virtue of family connections or political party connections as the case may be, and this leads to huge cost over-runs, inefficiencies, waste and ultimately it is the poorest segment of our society who pays the price for that kind of absence of accountability.”
The World Economic Forum estimates global corruption as 5 percent of global GDP or US 2.6 trillion dollars.
In many cases public tenders are assigned to bribe payers, neglecting better qualified companies and public funds are diverted from their intended use, embezzled and exploited for private use, according to the World Economic Forum.
Business are said to forgo innovation and competitiveness for bribery, while money that should be used to promote well being of people are diverted leading to a sharp increase in income and wealth inequality in societies.
Professor Trevor Munroe speaking on the Breakfast Show Wednesday (March 5), articulated an approach taken by Jamaica to tackle procurement issues.
“The way to deal with it, which is necessary but it’s only the first step, is to get the appropriate legislative framework and to establish institutions which will reduce the likelihood of minority private interest, hijacking governments which indeed are voted in by the majority and should serve the majority. A number of institutions and laws have been developed in different countries to ensure that this happens. In Jamaica for example, they have the office of the Contractor General and what that office does is to ensure by investigations that contracts awarded, permits given for development for land to be divested for example, that these should be done on the basis of merit and not awarded on the foundation of undue influence, by private interest, by family connections or political relationships and that office has served us well over the years because they do an annual report and that report reveals to the parliament and through the parliament the people, what contracts have not been awarded properly and if necessary, and very often this has been done, prosecutions are recommended by the office of the Contractor General for violations of procurement laws and regulations.”