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  1. 1. Emancipation Park Speech: Taking Responsibility, It is Something We All Have to Do. As we gather today in this park dedicated to emancipation let us be very aware that the freedom for which our ancestors struggled and for which we continue to seek after, is not unbridled freedom to do nothing about our current conditions. It is not a license for inaction and silence. I say to you today that with freedom there is responsibility. And it is with this in mind that I bring to you today an encouragement, a charge, to take responsibility. Allow me today in the next twenty minutes to focus on one topic which is close to home for all of us, and which illustrates the theme of taking responsibility. That is corruption. We are putting the finishing touches on a detailed report on corruption which will be available on the TRP website in a few weeks time. My speech is just an overview of the larger report. For greater detail please see our website. 1
  2. 2. Almost all of us agree that corruption is destroying our land. Greed and selfishness are impoverishing our country. Money that is meant to be spent building the country’s roads, schools and hospitals is instead finding its way into private bank accounts. Public officials, including police officers, turn a blind eye to crime and abuses in return for a little bly. We decry it, but feel we can do nothing about the wickedness of politicians. But what do we really know about corruption? Looking at the facts, can we conclude that corruption is as serious a problem as we suppose? The answer is no, and yes; but not for the reasons we have traditionally supposed. Let us begin with the first question: what do we know about corruption? Actually, quite a lot. Jamaica is hardly the only country in the world to suffer from corruption. It is found in every corner of the globe. How do we measure up to our Caribbean neighbours and the rest of the world? (GRAPH 1 right here). 2
  3. 3. The lower the score is the more corrupt a country is considered. Transparency International formulated a Global Corruption Barometer that assesses the sectors most likely to be characterized by corruption. GRAPH 2 RIGHT HERE Global Sectors Most Affected by Corruption Tax Revenue Business/Private Sector Legal system/judiciary Sectors Series1 Police Legislature/Parliaments Political Parties 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 4 Range As we see from this table, political parties are the most corrupt sector globally. 3
  4. 4. Jamaica appears to conform to this pattern of the major sectors affected or characterized by corruption, with the exception that the police force is perceived as being the most corrupt of public bodies, followed by political parties and the legislature, the business sector, legal system and finally tax revenue rounding off the top 5 most corrupt sectors in Jamaica. As a part of our research, this project conducted an extensive survey of citizens’ attitudes towards state and society. One thing we found is that 95 % of the respondents are of the view that the police do not treat citizens equally GRAPH 3 HERE. Globally, the difference appears to have lain not in the scale of corruption, but in its character. When corruption is used to support consumption – and worse, consumption of imported luxury goods – it causes money to leave the economy. You just have to stroll through some capitals of many developing countries and see the number of Mercedes Benzes on the streets to know that some 4
  5. 5. of the most under-developed economies have an over consumption of luxury goods while characterized by persistent poverty. Seen this way, how does Jamaica measure up? The truth is, we don’t know for sure. But on the face of it, there is little evidence of the sort of large-scale capital outflows, or fantastic opulence that is found in truly corrupt countries like the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos and Haiti under the Duvaliers.. The other thing worth noting is the sheer number of transactions which take place in Jamaica without corruption. We have all experienced requests for payments to “speed up the process.” But this is not a systematic practice as it is in some countries, where simply no business occurs without some payment being made under the table. In short, corruption may be morally offensive. It is probably also unjust, in that it favours those who have means to pay over those who don’t. But there seems to be a weak case at best that corruption is directly damaging to our growth prospects. 5
  6. 6. Does that mean that corruption is not a problem? No. Our research suggests it is one of the most serious problems facing this land. But not for the reasons we usually suppose. And when we delve more deeply into the matter, what becomes clear is that the corruption in Jamaica that is a problem is not the province of a few greedy cops or bad-minded politicians. It affects almost all of us; and, we all must take our share of responsibility for solving the problem. GRAPH HERE entitled do you believe corruption is a serious problem. 81 % of those surveyed believed that corruption is a very serious problem, 17 % felt it was somewhat serious and only 2 % responded that it was not a serious problem. Our study of popular perceptions of the state, and of fellow Jamaicans, our research has uncovered alarming levels of cynicism and distrust. We have concluded that the perception of heightened corruption regardless of the reality has the effect of eroding the incentives for citizens to obey laws, pay taxes and to therefore lend 6
  7. 7. support and resources to both public and private institutions necessary for economic growth and development. More worrying still are levels of interpersonal trust. We Jamaicans do not merely mistrust the state. We mistrust each other. True, there has been a trend in many of the world’s democracies towards lessening interpersonal trust. But Jamaica appears to be moving off the charts. Now if this doesn’t surprise you, it should. When citizens do not trust their public officials and therefore their government and worse, when they do not trust each other, one thing is certain: the economy suffers. GRAPH HERE. On Jamaican government Over 80 % believe that the Jamaican government is somewhat or has a great deal of corruption it means that our support for elected officials does not move significantly beyond electing them. On this, the comparative research is clear, and the theoretical case is well developed. Trust is the glue which holds an economy together. I repeat trust is the glue which holds the economy together. Jamaicans also do not trust the business sector either,43 7
  8. 8. % believes there is some corruption , while 41 % feels there is a great deal of corruption. GRAPH HERE on Business Sector. Interestingly enough, the private sector was perceived as being more corrupt than the public sector, with over 87 % perceiving businesses as corrupt while around 84 % percent believed the public sector is corrupt. In the jargon of economics, there is an inverse correlation between trust and transaction costs: when trust is low, transaction costs go up. When transaction costs go up, the volume of transactions declines. And when the volume of transactions remains flat, the economy grows slowly if at all. This appears to be the state in which Jamaica finds itself. When citizens feel there is a misuse of public funds many justify their unwillingness to pay taxes out of the belief that it is simply being used to line the pockets of elected officials and their associates. The slow development of the island’s infrastructure and areas such as the poor road network were taken by many to be visible evidence that public funds were being siphoned off. For Jamaica to become better for all, the partnering between our 8
  9. 9. government and elected officials and we the people, must go beyond contacting us and soliciting our votes. Trust is not just a word that describes when we go to the shop to ask Miss Vie “truss mi sommen til Ben Johnson or pay day nuh” It’s really not that difficult to see. How many businesses trust their clients enough to give them credit? Not many. But where credit is easy to get, sales go up. Just look at the US or Canada. In contrast, how many counters or corner stores throughout this land insist on taking payment through a grill before they will deliver you the product? How many shops treat each person that comes through their doors as a potential thief rather than a potential customer? It’s hardly an invitation to shoppers. And the problem goes deeper still. Jamaicans do not trust their courts, and they do not look to them as a useful means of resolving conflicts. GRAPH HERE on administration of justice. Well over 60 % of the respondents believe that the administration of justice system favours the rich. The declining confidence and trust in public institutions does not mean that some citizens do not 9
  10. 10. seek out justice. There is strongly emerging the reality of alternate justice mechanisms, either through vigilantism or parallel systems that exist in many places. But if people don’t trust courts to enforce contracts, they avoid entering into legal contracts. Instead, they fall back on the small network of people they trust to do jobs for them. But this means that the best people for the job might not get it. It is always bad for an economy to allocate resources inefficiently, but as this example show, this is what happens in a society without trust. Worse yet, when people do enter into contracts with strangers, but don’t look to the courts to enforce them, all manner of extra-legal settlement results. Based on our crime research, we are pretty confident in saying that Jamaica’s high rate of violent crime is connected at least in part to this fact. Many citizens are turning to force, guns and gunmen to enforce contracts when they are not honoured. And this is not just happening in the drug trade. It appears to be happening throughout the society. And do I need to tell you how bad violence is for an economy?. On that, the research 10
  11. 11. is once again clear. It is slowing our potential growth rate, keeping us from becoming the country we have the potential to be. Let me be clear. If our land is to ever become a country that did not turn away people hoping for a better life, but made it possible for them to build that life right here, it will have to get back on a rapid growth path. And to do that, we will need to restore both our faith in the system, and our trust in one another. This is where I challenge each and every one of us to be part of the solution. Because if you don’t do your bit, you will be part of the problem; and the problem will persist, and maybe even grow worse. How corruption became such a problem in Jamaica is not clear. It appears to be a function of past leadership failings, but the point is irrelevant to this evening’s discussion. For the problem has spread far beyond the level of political and private sector leadership. And the fact is that corruption persists today because most of us want it to. How many of us decry politicians for being corrupt while defrauding each other in daily transaction. We cry for justice, but do we treat each other fairly. How many of us have 11
  12. 12. been tempted or yielded to “tipping a public official to gimme a bly”, and in the same breath after “beating the ticket or the line” we call the police and the civil servant corrupt, what about us? What about our behaviour Yes, we must demand more of our leaders. Our research suggests that the quality of Jamaica’s post-independence leadership has been average at best, and that this has shown up in the mediocre quality of our economic performance. But we have gotten the leadership we deserve. We have gotten what we asked for, and what we want. And if we are to demand better leadership, we must be prepared to support and reward good leadership and be willing to provide it for ourselves. Change begins at home. When you wake up tomorrow, ask yourself what you can do to make Jamaica a better place. And if the finger must be pointed in accusation, point it in the mirror. Begin there to make Jamaica a better place. I’d like to invite all of you to join our dialogue about the ways in which we believe Jamaica can be transformed. In the New 12
  13. 13. Year, we will be launching a series of public forums like this one. We will look at some of the problems facing Jamaica, and at possible solutions. We will be launching a newsletter, and invite you to join our mailing-list and keep apprised of our activities. Rather than assigning blame or venting steam, the purpose will be to use our ongoing research to in form public debate. Above all, we want to come up with practical and workable solutions to each of our problems. Because at the end of the day, if ordinary Jamaicans do not become involved in the process of national transformation, it will never happen. The problems facing Jamaica are real. In the course of our research, we have uncovered large obstacles to Jamaica’s future development. Crime is one. We have concluded from our studies that if Jamaica continues to try to just muddle through, the risks of criminal gangs actually penetrating the political system to the point that they could control parts of it is imminent. Debt is another problem. The scale of debt in this country is so great that the Jamaican state risks collapsing under its weight, rendering itself 13
  14. 14. even more remote from its citizens’ lives. I do not want to sound alarmist. We are actively looking for solutions to these problems, looking at the experiences of other countries and seeing how similar challenges have been met elsewhere. But what is clear is that the solutions will require collective effort, not just the actions of a few leaders. And if there is one particularly bright ray of hope, it is this: our research has revealed that despite all their cynicism and mistrust, Jamaicans still believe in their state. They want it to work; they want to make it work. They are not yet willing to give up on a land they still love. GRAPH HERE. Over 60% of those surveyed are very proud of being Jamaican, of their national flag, anthem as well as their cultural and athletic performance. Despite feelings of betrayal by our state 70 % still have some confidence in the legal system and a similar number will report a crime to their police rather than resorting to alternative justice mechanisms. We found that national pride was greater than the things that divide us. In other words Jamaicans have not given up on their state. The 14
  15. 15. point is that we believe that Jamaicans feel good about being Jamaicans but they want their government and public officials to do better, the fact is that we must all do better!! It is an asset we should not underestimate, because many are the young countries on this planet whose citizens have given up on their national projects altogether. The future is ours: if only, if only, we all take responsibility for it. . Our concern is what we as Jamaicans need to do differently in order for our economy to grow, to establish accountable leadership, the development of our people and to do whatever we can to stem the tide of crime and violence and to restore or even to build the people’s confidence in our political system. The overall goal of the project is to contribute to the raising of not only public awareness but also public discourse and informed action: to effect change by influencing our policymakers, politicians, corporate Jamaica, the church, the academic community and finally all Jamaicans. Please join us in building a better Jamaica. 15
  16. 16. And in the spirit of young people effecting change, the word says, and a child shall lead them. I want to introduce a young girl who has put ink to paper and penned a song that captures the message of the effects of corruption. I present to you ten year old __Alicia McGregor_____________________________ with her chart thumping song CORRUPTION, please make her welcome. 16