So says the 2019 Global Corruption Barometer for Latin America and the Caribbean in a survey, conducted by Transparency International, and published on Monday.
The report highlights the views and experiences of the Jamaican people, alongside those of 17 other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, as reported in national surveys conducted between January and March 2019.
Among the findings from the Jamaican survey were that 78% of Jamaican people feel that corruption is a big problem in government.
50% of our people believe that corruption has gotten worse in the last year prior to the survey and an equal number of Jamaicans are of the opinion that government is handling the fight against corruption badly.
Only 30% of Jamaicans believe that appropriate action shall be taken in response to reports of corruption and 83% of persons think that citizens risk retaliation if they report corruption.
Anti-corruption watchdog National Integrity Action is not surprised by the findings. It says the findings reinforce recommendations that law enforcement agencies and justice sector officials be given more resources to investigate reports from citizens, in protecting whistle blowers, and jailing those found guilty of corruption.
NIA says the government also needs to set a better example of holding to account those within its ranks who are accused of corruption.
Additionally, 67-per cent of Jamaicans believe the government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves. This cynical view has risen from the previous survey in 2013 when 53 per cent of Jamaicans shared that perspective.
NIA says this finding indicates there needs to be greater public awareness and more effective enforcement of campaign finance legislation, designed to reduce the extent to which political parties and candidates are in fact, or perceived to be, beholden to a few big donors.
At the same time there are positives in relation to Jamaica’s performance compared to the rest of the region:12% of our people report being offered a bribe to buy their vote in the last 5 years compared to 25% in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Over half of Jamaicans are aware of their right to information compared to 39% for the rest of the region.
Of considerable significance is the finding that 1 in 5 people in the Latin American and Caribbean region and 18% in Jamaica experienced sexual extortion when accessing a government service like healthcare or education or know someone who has.
Of much concern is that 67% of Jamaican citizens believe that government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves compared to 53% of Jamaicans reported in the Global Corruption Barometer 2013.
This finding clearly indicates that there needs to be greater public awareness and more effective enforcement of Campaign Finance legislation designed to reduce the extent to which political parties and candidates are in fact, or perceived to be , beholden to a few big donors.
One encouraging sign is that 73% of the Jamaican people believe that, even in the context of inactivity by the authorities and threats of victimisation, ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption.
This finding reinforced the need for public officials, including Parliamentarians of integrity, civil society bodies, like NIA, the private sector and the churches to redouble efforts to encourage the people to speak out more and to stand up against corrupt officials.
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