Is Ramotar condoning corruption?
Scarcely a day goes by without an accusation against the government about corruption. There are others who are also accused, but the number pales against the people in Government employ who are accused of being corrupt. And the government does not take kindly to being so accused.
Initially, the government, at the time headed by President Bharrat Jagdeo, simply said that anyone can make an accusation. He further said that many people make accusations but they do not come forward with facts to make the accusations stick.
On another occasion he said that his government is hamstrung, because sometimes the information provided is not enough to secure a criminal conviction. On other occasions, people would provide information but would not come forward to support the accusations.
We are familiar with the latter. We often get reports from people, some through the mail, who would ask to remain unidentified. In other instances, people would indicate a fear of being victimized and would prefer if the information could be used but the source of the information be kept a confidential matter.
However, recently, people have been making the allegations in increasing numbers and they have not been seeking anonymity. These are the people caught in the same situation as the bull heading to the proverbial slaughterhouse. Two of the most damning reports have come from a contractor and from a document secured by this newspaper about the operations of National Communications Network.
Had they not be so damning, people would have concluded that the accusers were merely disgruntled people seeking to eke out some vengeance against the government. The contractor is firmly committed to the view that his contract on the East Coast Demerara Highway was terminated because he refused to pay graft to a senior Government official whom he named.
Of course, the government cited another reason for the termination of the contract. This is a matter that is being hotly debated albeit in the press. The other issue highlights what operated in NCN, an entity that has been spending as much as one billion dollars of taxpayers’ money per year.
To his credit, whatever that may mean, the head of the institution resigned. His deputy was suspended for eight weeks. The investigation has been completed and some damning comments have emerged. As can be expected, the government has said nary a word or taken any condign action following the exposure.
In any other country, except the most corrupt, people resign or face punishment for their corrupt activities. At one time in Guyana, senior officials were jailed despite charges that the then government was corrupt. In fact, one Minister was asked to resign and he died soon after. It was found that the Minister had procured material from a government source for personal gain.
Allegations against corrupt Government officials are nothing new. Also not new are the efforts by the government to brush these under the carpet. If a contractor can confront a government official about corruption then it is left for the government to act.
We have already noted the fierce drive to protect the corrupt and those who run afoul of the law. We have also stated that the rest of the society has become so dishonest because the members seem to be taking a cue from the government.
Donald Ramotar inherited a system so tarnished that even when he recycled his Ministers, the nation simply concluded that he was seeking to entrench corruption. For his part, Ramotar said that he campaigned on a platform of continuity. Surely, he could not be saying that he campaigned on a platform to continue corruption.
He has a duty to protect the government. He already has good reason to sack a number of tarnished people around him. And by sacking we do not mean having them removed from the present office and consigned to another location.
There are those who would want to say that the situation at Linden has been dominating the president’s attention. We say that this should not be the case. Guyana’s development is stunted by the rampant corruption. We are sick and tired of being poor and developing when we know that we should have been so much better off.