Corruption and Spin
It is not unexpected that during this last lap to Election Day political parties would burnish their wares. In fact we would be surprised if they did not. Spin is not only deployed in the game of cricket. But we would hope that they would have some good sense and a modicum of respect for the basic common sense of voters, not to insist that night is day. And this is what the PPP/C Campaign Manager Robert Persaud’s assertion is tantamount to when he claims it is only the opposition that is “creating the impression that we are, as a government and as a party, tolerating and facilitating corruption at various levels.”
For years, one scandal or another – reeking of corruption and involving one government official or another – has been erupting like sores in our society. In the beginning, it was relatively small. There was the contract for CDs of the Laws of Guyana (ironies of ironies!) given out to cronies of the hierarchy in New York. One official took the rap, was fined, but immediately promoted. Is this the government sticking its middle finger at the people of Guyana?
What about the duty-free scam in cars that involved a party functionary? Who took the fall and what happened to the official? The government didn’t tolerate him? Then, of course, there was the scandal in exporting protected dolphins by a highly placed official out of the Office of the President. Has that individual ever been disciplined, or even rapped on the knuckles? In fact when the then Auditor General attempted to mount an investigation into “Dolphingate”, he was pressured and run out of town.
But those early dips into the public cookie jar seemingly only whetted the appetite of the big ones in government and forced this newspaper into an investigative series in which we highlighted so many instances of inflated contracts – totaling in the billions of dollars – that the government officials had to be blind not to have taken cognizance that something was seriously amiss from within. How else can one explain the government’s reaction, not to investigate the scandalous drainage in the public purse, but to go after the messenger: this newspaper.
The campaign manager (and Minister of Government) has boasted that they reestablished the Auditor General’s office that issues yearly reports. After hounding the last Auditor General from office, could he explain why the latter’s successor has never been appointed permanently? And of the numerous recommendations about government‘s improper use of funds (such as the Lottery Funds by the Office of the President) have any reforms been instituted? Is this not the toleration and facilitating of corruption?
The Public Procurement Act has been amended, it is true, but would the goodly Minister care to say why there has been no Public Procurement Commission appointed? Is it because such a commission would have had to scrutinize the entire procurement process and bring transparency to its operations? Meaning that corruption would then be more difficult to tolerate and facilitate?
Mr. Persaud, in his denial that there is absolutely no role in corruption played by the government would be well served if he listens to what his party’s presidential candidate Mr. Donald Ramotar has pronounced on the issue. Accepting what is blindingly clear to every other citizen, Mr Ramotar, to his credit, acknowledges the presence of corruption while questioning its quantum and spread.
He assured this newspaper in an interview, “We can improve the system and work for the elimination of corruption.” This is a good beginning. No disorder or illness, individual or societal, can be rectified unless there is an acceptance of its existence. If elected, we will hold Mr Ramotar to his word.