Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that the country will have to develop a culture that supports transparency and disclosure, even as the government presses forward with several pieces of anti-corruption legislation in Parliament.
He was speaking today, International Anti-Corruption Day, at the launch of the non-governmental organisation, National Integrity Action Limited (NIAL) at the University of the West Indies (UWI). The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) theme for the day is “Act Against Corruption Today"- ACT-.
Mr. Holness said that he was in favour of disclosure of political party financing, but that such laws would mean that the state would also have to finance political party campaigns.
“Once we go that route of disclosure, the argument has been placed on the table that financing of campaigns, the cost of campaigns, will become unbearable on the political parties because they will not be able to raise the funds to do it. In accepting disclosure, in accepting limits, in accepting transparency, the flip side of the argument is that the state is also to accept the responsibility of providing the funding.”
Mr. Holness itemized the anti corruption initiatives brought by government to Parliament as: the passing of the Special Prosecutor bill; the criminalization of persons who corrupt government contracts, including procurement procedures; the adoption of campaign financing laws; the addition of a defamation clause to the libel law; and laws to impeach corrupt public officials.
The Prime Minister said that he is confident that early in the New Year the government and opposition, working in committee, will pass the Special Prosecutor bill.
The NIAL aims to raise integrity in Jamaica through advocacy that supports strengthening of anti-corruption agencies and to raise public awareness of the benefits of combating corruption. It grew out of the network of anti corruption agencies based at UWI called the National Integrity Action Forum. NIAL is chaired by UWI Professor, Anthony Harriott. Other board members are UWI Professor Trevor Munroe; head of the Private Sector of Jamaica (PSOJ) Joseph Matalon; journalist Martin Henry; head of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute, Danny Roberts and Attorney-at-law, Lenworth Burke.
Contact: Communications Unit-OPM