They are two of the main reasons why the quality of our lives is not what we would like it to be. We are entitled to expect a better quality of life, than we now have because, we live in a democratic state, where the people choose citizens, who put themselves forward as persons of honor and integrity, to govern us and, serve our best interests. Putting yourself forward as someone who may be entrusted to serve the nation, by pursuing those two noble objectives, is to undertake to complete a sacred contract. Serving your fellow countrymen is serving your Creator, which is in compliance with the first commandment. You are not elected to be a Member of the House of Representatives, and be called Honorable, to use your high office for any other purpose than to serve the people.
To ensure that public officials are as scrupulous in their dealings and behaviors as Caesarís wife, there is a Corruption in Public Life Act and an Integrity Commission to enforce this law. The law is deficient in that it is narrow in its application. Obviously, there is as much opportunity and temptation to use their office for personal gain amongst the higher echelons of the Public Service as in the political directorate. Also, the corruption-minded members of the political directorate require the complicity of senior public officers to be successful in their ventures.
Corruption is not the type of crime that will come to the attention of a police department. So. In view of the fact that not one single member of the political directorate has ever been prosecuted for this offence, there can only be two explanations for this. Either all our elected officials, since Independence, qualify as members of the angelic hosts or, the Integrity in Public Life Act is lacking and the Integrity Commission has been asleep at its post.
We pay a very high price for corruption. If the act deprives an individual or group and enriches the offender, the nation does not suffer a loss. The net result is a transfer of funds. The same as if a robber takes away someoneís possession at the point of a gun. Both result in a transfer of funds and both cause harm, which has a cost.
Which is worse, the robber or the corrupt politician? Robbers rob. They are predators. Elected officials take an oath to serve the people. A corrupt politician is much worse than a robber because, in addition to committing a crime, his act is a betrayal of trust.
There is a high cost to corruption, not easily measured. It stifles productivity. It frustrates entrepreneurship. It adversely affects morale. It slows down the process of government business and, it enriches the few at the expense of the many.
There are many corrupt practices engaged in by public officials, having to do with contracts, projects and the dispensation of political favors. All criminal. All reprehensible. All beneficial to the politician at a cost to the nation. Also, to be considered is that serious investors may not be prepared to do business with a country with a bad reputation for corruption.
I believe you agree with me that a corrupt politician is worse than an armed robber. Now, I will let you decide whether crime or corruption is worse for our economy.
Letís talk about crime. The first thing to bear in mind is that the more major crimes increase, the less minor crimes are reported. The reason for this is that citizens realize that the police have not the time to deal with petty crime. Unreported crimes encourage more criminal activity. If this trend continues, all law-abiding citizens will become victims of crime.
Crime is like this. For every perpetrator, there is his first victim. Letís say he is an armed robber. If he is successful, which means that he is not apprehended, there will be a second victim, then a third, and so on. By the time he has his fifth victim, he is in the business of armed robbery. If he is a gang member, now he had status. He has the power of an intimidator, which is attractive to the opposite sex. It is easy for him to find one to mate with, who will keep his gun and swear that he was with her at the time when a crime, he is accused of, was committed. Thatís one scenario.
Here is another. There are people who make crack cocaine, which is a mixture of pure cocaine with other substances. It is very strongly addictive. Those who smoke crack cocaine usually end up as crack-heads, a burden to their family and the state. For the manufacturers of crack cocaine, it is a lucrative business. They live comfortably, send their children to high school, even college and, are respectable citizens.
From an economic point of view, what the consumer pays the producer is merely a transfer of funds, which the latter may put to better use but, there is a real loss and, a cost to the state. We lose the potential income that the crack-head might have earned, if he was a productive citizen at the outset. There is also a loss to the economy of the ripple effect of his spending on food, recreation and various services. What it costs the nation of one crack-head, multiplied by the number of those afflicted must be significant.
You can get an idea of the cost to the nation of around 300 murders in the last three years. Letís say 25% of these were of productive citizens with a life expectancy of thirty years each. That would be 75 x 30 x $30,000 or $67,500,000. Add to that a proportion of the cost of the criminal justice system (police, courts, et al), the pain and suffering of the victimsí families and the peace and sense of security of the general public. The last two items cannot be properly measured.
I think the cost of crime has never been evaluated by our stakeholders (the Unions, Chamber of Commerce and the rest of civil society). If it were, Direct, Decisive and Effective action to curb crime would have been taken long ago.
Both crime and corruption, these two evils are getting worse. It has reached the stage where Direct, Decisive and Effective action is called for. By this I mean action which will result in measurable improvement in the status quo. Would you say that the actions taken by those who have been entrusted with the responsibility to deal with these two evils have been successful? I think not.
The government deserves credit for its efforts in dealing with crime and, it is noted that is has widened its circle of advisers. This is a good sign because, judging by the results of the actions taken on the advice of its in-house advisers, an impartial observer would have to conclude that they have not been fruitful.
Still, government has the power to do whatever is necessary to curb crime. The past regime has failed but, we have a new regime since March 7. The least it can do is set a target and a timetable and let the people judge the results. A target like a 25% reduction in the annual murder rate by March 7, next year.
We have to be reasonable in our expectations about reducing the crime rate but, we have a right to demand that measurable progress is made. It is different with corruption. Corruption by public officials and senior public officers can be eliminated entirely, if there is the political will to do so. I think that the general public is entitled to see that positive steps are taken to achieve this goal.
I have mentioned in previous articles some measures that could be adopted in pursuit of the desired objective. The one in which I have the greatest confidence is to revert to the previous system of public administration, where the senior managers were career public officers, with security of tenure, instead of CEOs who serve during the existing governmentís term of office.
I think corruption entered public administration on the introduction of CEO management by the ruling party prior to Independence. Its purpose was to have the ministers and CEOs as partners in a political mission. The change served its purpose but, it is no longer the purpose of senior managers in the public service. Now the purpose is to provide the best possible management of a public service that is dedicated, productive, efficient, well trained, committed and, above all, non political.
The objective of a CEO is to make a profit for a business. The objective of a Permanent Secretary is to give quality service to the public. They are both expected to give their ministers the best advice of which they are capable. Which is better able to do this? The Permanent Secretary has the knowledge, training and experience of having served an average of 30 years in government ministries and departments.
Iíll end by making a statement and asking a question. The statement: we inherited our Parliamentary system and our system of governance from Britain. The question: why do you suppose that Britain has retained a career civil service headed by Permanent Secretaries as its senior managers? Amandala