JIS News

The creation of appropriate ethical infrastructure in Jamaica is set to gather momentum in the coming months, as the Management Institute for National Development (MIND), in collaboration with the Cabinet Office, rolls out its refocused programme targeting all ministries, departments, agencies and public enterprises.
Later this month, officers of the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) will be sensitized, through a customized training programme and, going forward, it is anticipated that an increasing number of public sector institutions will be so engaged.
Ethics in public administration in Jamaica has witnessed a renewed burst of interest in recent years, particularly since the launch of the Vision 2030 development plan and more recently with the introduction of the government’s Medium-term Economic Programme (including the country’s re-engagement with a stand-by credit facility with the International Monetary Fund). Both policy documents call for an increased role of the state in promoting ethical standards and the need to integrate an ethical infrastructure into the state’s development policy.
The premise is that overall national economic success is dependent on the essential elements of financial infrastructure, physical infrastructure, knowledge infrastructure and ethical infrastructure. Proper integration and correct functioning of these elements, it is posited, is fundamental to economic development and growth.
During a JIS Think Tank session at the Jamaica Information on Wednesday November 17, Service Senior Policy and Project Officer – Cabinet Office, Ryan Evans endorses that concept, “You cannot divorce the issue of ethics from the process of development…There is a correlation between a developed state and the incidence of corruption. Every society needs to create an ethical underpinning in order to advance its social and economic development”.
In addition to its comprehensive programme to provide professional enrichment and the upgrading of the technical and managerial skills of public servants, MIND in Association with the Cabinet Office has now developed a special course, “The Creation of an Ethical Infrastructure”.
Director, Business Development & Communication – MIND, Glynis Salmon, in providing the rationale for introducing the programme, emphasized that, “There can be no question that every single ministry, department and agency must involve themselves in the whole business of establishing an ethical infrastructure.”
“What is critical is that we must understand it. Organizations are to position themselves, tailor their principles and practices, fashion their thinking and bring it into full alignment with this ethical infrastructure,” he added.
The course is available to public servants and is designed to enable participants to better understand the philosophical foundations of ethical practices, the core principles of ethical conduct and be able to distinguish between the types and scope of activities in which public sector employees are allowed to engage.
The creation of an ethical infrastructure in Jamaica was conceptualized some eight years ago and Ministry Paper: 2002 on Public Sector Reform, entitled, ‘Government at your Service’, spoke to the essential elements of the framework. It stated that ethical standards for the public service should be clear and should be reflected in the legal framework. Further, that ethical guidance should be available to public servants, who should know their rights and obligations when exposing wrongdoings within the public service, and that and public servants would be provided the protection necessary to them in cases of exposing wrongdoing.
The Ministry Paper on Public Sector Reform also emphasized the need for a Public Service, “in which every public servant thinks and acts in the best interest of Jamaica and its citizens with honesty, and objectivity, taking decisions that are transparent and for which the officer is accountable.”
The introduction of the Ethical Infrastructure in Government programme was designed as the appropriate vehicle to facilitate this change of attitude. Mr. Evans observed that since the establishment of the programme, 90 Ethics Officers have been appointed within the Public Sector, 78 of whom have been sensitized under the programme.
“The intention is to further accelerate the training programme until all appointed Ethics Officers have been trained within the Public Sector. The objective is to have trained Ethics Officers in some 230 public institutions and to extend the programme to involve a wider pool of stakeholders”, Evans explained.
Later this month, the management and staff of the Companies Office of Jamaica will be the beneficiary of a customised Ethical Infrastructure course and MIND Director, Public Sector Capability Development, Ann-Marie Smith, is confident that Mind has prepared itself very well to deliver this intervention.
“It is not just an academic exercise…we have facilitators drawn from a wide cross section of sectors that add value to the presentations and we have seen the impact that it brings to some of the institutions that have been a part of the training”, she noted.