Corruption has been identified as one of the major impediments to good business in the Guyanese economy and, both the Government and the private sector have agreed to stamp out the practices beginning at the “top.”
When the Private Sector Commission (PSC) met at the Pegasus Hotel yesterday for their 2012 Annual General Meeting (AGM), fingers were pointed at both the public and private sector, where examples of corruption can be found.
President Donald Ramotar who was invited as a guest speaker at yesterday’s meeting didn’t turn a blind eye to the fact that corrupt practices exist within government sectors in situations, where officials use positions of influence to frustrate persons conducting legitimate business.
“We have fought corruption in the past and we will continue to do so. We will try to get to both the corrupted and the corrupter. Both are criminally culpable. In the case of corruption within the public sector, the corrupted is a public official who demands something in return for a favour,” President Ramotar said.
He however opined that addressing the scourge is not the responsibility of the government alone, but that of the private sector.
“I look forward to the private sector taking a proactive stance in isolating the corrupt within our midst,” President Ramotar said while addressing the gathering that included past and present chairmen of the PSC, members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of public and private companies.
“I am committed to addressing these issues, (corruption). I support a simplified fiscal incentive system where everyone knows what is available and they are not lured into bribing public officials for concessions which they may be lawfully entitled to,” President Ramotar said.
His remarks came after incumbent Chairman of the PSC, Ramesh Dookhoo, chronicled a number of scenarios in the business environment where clandestine and unconventional practices are evident.
The PSC Chairman said there are cries of social injustice, favouritism in the award of contracts, discrepancies between politically-affiliated businesses, allegations of corruption in public institutions and in the private sector by the Guyana Revenue Authority, which claims that officials are made corrupt by the private sector.
In the midst of confessions, however, President Ramotar came to the defence of the government in cases where he believes criticisms are unfair, particularly as it relates to the award of contracts.
He said that for the majority of contracts that are being awarded through the process of public tender, a select few have been subject to criticisms and innuendos that he believes are widely sensationalised to unjustifiably paint the government as being corrupt.
Last September, the National Assembly passed the Access to Information Bill that sets out a practical regime of right to information for persons to secure access to information under the control of public authorities in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of the government and public authorities.
President Ramotar felt compelled, however, to point out some of the do’s and don’ts in the process of disclosing information, particularly as it relates to contracts.
He stated that although he intends to make the business of Government as transparent as possible, there are ethical considerations which no government which procures goods and services from the private sector can ignore.
The notion of legislation and the creation of a national policy to address corruption was mooted by the PSC Chairman who believes that Guyana’s problems can be solved with Guyanese solutions. (GINA)
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