by Karl Rodney
Jamaica has had the good fortune to enjoy tremendous goodwill in the United States and around the world. It has a strong and active diaspora that goes back to its very foundation of universal adult suffrage and independence; that active diaspora is still active today and is acting to provide resources and goodwill and to be ambassadors for a country that they care for and want to see at its best.
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This goodwill extends beyond the diaspora to individuals and organizations who feel a strong connection to Jamaica and of course, the country has a strong reputation with respect to its achievements in the area of sports, culture, education, and in so many other areas.
So there is no lack of goodwill for the country. There’s no lack of talent inside and outside of the country to be deployed to keep the country on track and in good stead. Yes, there are problems that the country has faced and problems that are of concern to those with goodwill. Chief among those problems is the problem of corruption, the corruption that has been far too widespread in the country and has been a deterrent to more active and dedicated engagement in the country. This corruption has plagued the country for some time, and unfortunately, it is still a major factor in how the country is viewed and how it attracts both the diaspora and other elements of goodwill and investment.
We quite understand the government and their good intentions of solving some of these problems and indeed, their success in many areas with respect to governance and advancement of the country. But we must be careful that good intentions alone is not sufficient to encourage, develop and expand the goodwill towards Jamaica.
The country cannot afford to squander this goodwill and to be able to perform at its highest. This brings us to the issue of confidence in the financial system in Jamaica and the fraud scandal surrounding SSL and that is being brought to light by the scamming of the world’s most recognized athlete, Usain Bolt. What a shock this was and indeed what a disgrace and a bad signal to those of goodwill towards Jamaica.
It signaled a lack of real control, management and oversight of a significant part of the financial system by the government, and apparently this has been an ongoing problem, not just for this particular institution, but for others where the lapse of control, oversight and careful management has allowed the sector to be a free operator.
The initial reaction to this scandal was somewhat casual and measured in spite of the urgency and the significant impact that it has had on goodwill towards the country. Yes, investigations have been launched; while the comments and commentary were slow in coming from government officials, it is now being addressed, but addressed in a form not aggressive enough and reassuring enough for those in the diaspora and I’m sure at home, who would want to see a firmer, more aggressive answer/effort to this fraud that has been committed on the country and on a key element in its development, that of investment and security of those investments.
As we sample the diaspora, it is clear that there is a strong desire to be an effective partner of goodwill to the country, Jamaica. But there’s also a strong notion that good intention alone cannot satisfy what is required to bring about the accountability and the restoration of confidence that is necessary to continue the goodwill towards the country and all that would bring in the way of support in so many ways and on so many levels.
There is no questioning the integrity of the government and its ministries.
Prime Minister Holness has said that he is disgusted and upset by the SSL incident, and many others feel the same way. We need to act, deal with and safeguard against this ever happening again – the goodwill will follow.