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In the bid to weed out corruption within the Government service, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, has moved to re-establish and strengthen three key agencies under his purview.
These are the Financial Investigations Division (FID), Revenue Protection Division (RPD), and Public Accountability Inspectorate (PAI).
Addressing a special consultation organised by the Customs Department today (Jan. 27) at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge in Kingston, as part of activities marking Customs Week, from January 25-31, Mr. Shaw warned that he was going to be “uncompromising” in his stance on corruption.
“We have to be serious about cleaning up Government… we have to be serious about cutting out corruption.we are sending the signal, we are coming for the miscreants, we are coming for anyone, who is breaking the law and robbing the country of vitally needed revenue,” he declared.
The Finance Minister said he was pleased at the work being done by Commissioner of Customs, Danville Walker, “and I know that he is doing it with the cooperation and support of the customs officers and all of the workers in that Department.”
Outlining the efforts being made to strengthen the capacity of the three agencies to tackle corruption, Minister Shaw informed that a bill is before Parliament, which will shortly be considered and passed into law, to give the FID “much more ability for the discovery of information and facilitate them in their investigations, both in Jamaica and overseas.” He said that a new head for the agency was recently appointed.
Turning to the RPD, he said the agency has been re-established, with Major Joanna Lewin, formerly of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), to serve as Director. He noted that the remit of the Department “is going to be that they have to protect the revenue across all sectors where there’s revenue leakage, whether that is at Customs, (or) whether it is at the Inland Revenue Department.”
The PAI, in the meantime, will be re-established to review the reports of Ministries and agencies of Governments, to ensure that recommendations contained to address infractions uncovered, are carried out. The Inspectorate will also be empowered to conduct investigations into matters of corruption based on “anecdotal evidence”.
Turning to other matters, the Finance Minister stressed the need to transform and simplify the process of doing business in Jamaica.
“We have to transform our way of doing things. We have to make the business of investment easier… we have got to cut the red tape, and lay out a red carpet…where, it’s not seen as something that is so difficult to get into business that you don’t even want to try,” he pointed out.
“I believe, if we can get rid of some of the unnecessary tentacles that are wrapped around us, and wrapped around the system, that, in an ironic way, we will also be able to deal with some of the problems of corruption that we have in the system,” he argued, stating that having too many impediments was “setting the stage for more corruption and… corruptibility.”