Guyana demands removal of Ram, Woolford from watchdog body
The Guyana Government has called on Transparency International (TI), a respected watchdog body, to cut ties with a number of prominent local members. The government said yesterday that it has lost confidence in their ability to be balanced.
Under fire for their role in the Guyana Chapter of TI are journalist, Enrico Woolford; accountant/lawyer, Christopher Ram; businessman Keith Parks; and Gino Persaud, also a lawyer.
According to Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Manzoor Nadir, in a release from that Ministry, government on Friday wrote to Cobus de Swardt, Managing Director of Transparency International, complaining of “known and public biases” of members of the Guyana Chapter of TI.
In his letter, the Ministry named several persons who had affiliations with opposition political parties and have demonstrated “hostility, bitterness and vitriol to the Government of Guyana.
Among those named were Christopher Ram, Enrico Woolford and Keith Parks.”
Regarding Ram, the statement said that he is the legal counsel of the Transparency International Guyana.
“Mr. Christopher Ram is a person who had a hand in writing the opposition PNC/R 1G manifesto for the 2006 elections. Also his attacks and criticisms in the media are well documented.”
In the case of Woolford, Nadir pointed out that he was a “senior information disseminator under the illegitimate PNC Government of the post (sic) 1992 era” and currently hosts a “sarcastic anti-government” newscast.
Regarding Parks, the statement said that the businessman is closely affiliated to a political party, through family relations.
“His son in law, Mr. Mike Singh, is the opposition PNCR international relations liaison. Mr. Parks brought Mr. Singh to have a meeting with the Guyana Chapter only recently.
In addition, the Government’s letter to TI chronicles the close links between two lawyers from the same firm.”
According to Nadir in the statement, in the case of Persaud, he was removed as a Government representative from the Council of the University of Guyana.
“Mr. Persaud works in the same law office with Mr. Timothy Jonas who has a family with Nadia Sagar, the executive officer of the Guyana Chapter.
The Government also said that while the government has no problems with transparency and to opening itself to scrutiny at the highest level, those who are coming to scrutinise us, who are coming to make comments on us, should be above reproach and that the Guyana Chapter of Transparency International has started out with tainted people among its flock.”
Addressing recent criticisms over the government’s One Laptop Per Family project, in which the Chinese-owned Huawei, has given Guyana US$50,000 following the award of a major contract, the Foreign Ministry echoed government’s explanation that it was used to buy 142 laptops for poor families around the country.
The…”President, at the time of the launch of this initiative, invited the diplomatic community, the donor community and others to make similar contributions.”
The statement also noted that the Chinese Government, at the recently concluded joint commission meeting, said that it will be providing 21,600 of these laptops.
“It is not uncommon for donor countries to stipulate from which only companies from the donor country can supply.
Huawei is one of the largest companies in the world and is among one of the top three companies in terms of the provision of IT hardware and software and the building of platforms.”
The statement also said that while Minister Nadir is calling for a purge of the Guyana Chapter of TI, it was stressed that government supports any work to ensure good governance and transparency.