Ja considered more corrupt

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica has become a more corrupt country, according to the latest Transparency International Corruption Perception Index.

Jamaica, which had a ranking of 61 out of 163 countries in the 2006 report, fell some 23 places to 84 on the 2007 list. The report ranked 180 countries on a scale from 10 to zero, with 10 being seen as the least corrupt country and zero the most corrupt.

Jamaica achieved a score of 3.3 out of 10, compared to last year’s score of 3.7.

Jamaica placed sixth when compared to its seven English-speaking regional neighbours on the list. Barbados topped the list with a placing of 23 and a rating of 6.9, while Guyana, which came below Jamaica, placed 123 with a rating of 2.6.

Although released in 2007, the report takes last year’s events into account.

As such, Beth Aub, former general secretary of the Jamaican chapter of Transparency International, believes the Trafigura debacle, which engulfed the then People’s National Party administration, may have had an impact on the present status.

“Trafigura was a big thing, Trafigura was an international thing … it was not transparent, we still don’t know what happened. If businessmen are reporting that they have to pay bribe money and they do, large companies will go to other countries where they know their expenses upfront and they don’t have to pay for security because of a high crime rate, we keep going down every year because the government and elsewhere is not any more transparent.”

Trafigura Beheer, the oil lifting company based in the Netherlands, caused outcry in the nation after it was discovered that they had given the PNP, then in government, a $31 million donation the money was reportedly returned, several commentators had suggested the contribution gave a perception of corruption.

Ms. Aub said she believed education and better opportunities could reduce incidents of corruption. She is recommending to the current government that its speaks to countries at the top of the list to see what they are doing correctly.

Derrick Smith, Minister of National Security, in a response to the report told The Gleaner that the new administration’s promise to appoint a Prosecutor General to probe acts of corruption is still on track.

“We are now looking at it, formulating it, the Prime Minister has had discussions regarding it,” Mr. Smith said. “It is a firm commitment from the government; it is firmly on the agenda.”

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