Mon | Feb 18, 2019

Munroe: Bring full force of law against Petrojam violators

Published:Monday | December 10, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen (left) greets William Shagoury (centre), custos of Clarendon, and Professor Trevor Munroe (right), executive director, National Integrity Action (NIA), upon his arrival for the NIA's Seventh Anniversary Celebration and United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day. The celebration was held at the Glenmuir High School in Clarendon, yesterday.

Executive Director of National Integrity Action (NIA) Professor Trevor Munroe is adamant that the full force of the law must be brought against all parties embroiled in the Petrojam saga.

Following the recent damning revelations by Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis of major discrepancies and corruption at the state-run oil entity from 2013 to 2018, the professor insisted that a slap on the wrist cannot be the response.

He also praised Monroe Ellis for what he called her demonstration of bravery.

The NIA head was speaking with The Gleaner yesterday at Glenmuir High School in Clarendon during a function to observe International Anti-Corruption Day, celebrated annually on December 9, as well as to commission roughly 200 new integrity champions.

"The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency and Integrity Commission need to take up where the auditor general left off to find out where are all the missing barrels of oil. Where did they go? The report tells us that there were billions and billions worth of unaccounted losses," Munroe said.

"Restitution needs to be made and punishment administered. It cannot be that the only penalty for those persons is to resign and continue as usual. That is not how we deal with the people who are not powerful. We need to do the same for these people, and they should be made to pay back. We need to shame and name them."

Munroe took issue with the cost of a surprise birthday party for former energy minister Andrew Wheatley, in particular, a four-tiered US$1,000 cake.

"What I believe is disgraceful is that the cost of that cake exceeds, by far, the monthly salary of many hard-working teachers, police, and public servants. That is disgraceful!"

Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, who made the trek from Kingston to join the NIA team, reminded those in attendance that corruption destroys the economy of a country.

"It is not enough for us to be satisfied that on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, Jamaica has moved up from 86 in 2016 to being ranked 68 out of 175 countries that were assessed in 2017. We are still a long way in getting there."

The roughly 200 persons who were commissioned as integrity champions yesterday have undergone two days of training by reputable trainers in leadership, integrity, and community mobilisation. There are currently more than 1,000 integrity champions who have been commissioned.

Munroe explained that "we want to get to a stage where people not only know the right thing, but do the right thing".

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com