The Canadian Government hopes for a reduction in the levels of corruption in Guyana and is looking for a more active public debate on issues of corruption resulting from increased awareness.
The Canadian Government feels that there is a broad consensus in Guyana on the need to fight corruption.
This is according to Nicole Giles, Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, who said, “One of the best ways to fight corruption is to shed light upon it…by shedding light on the issue of corruption, and the role that everyone can play in fighting it”.
High Commissioner Giles was at the time responding to queries of the High Commission’s involvement with Transparency International Guyana Inc (TIGI) in the erection of two billboards advising “You can Stop Corruption”.
One of the billboards is installed at the Demerara Harbour Bridge and the other at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) on Camp Road.
She said that the Canadian Government is hoping to encourage a more proactive attitude as well as a sense of civic responsibility. “The message ‘You can stop Corruption’ reminds people that their actions have an impact on the rest of society and, hopefully, serves as a reminder that corruption is neither inevitable nor insurmountable”, she said.
According to the High Commissioner, this initiative was funded by Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), which provides resources to support local needs and interests. The CFLI is intended to address a broad range of issues, including the advancement of democratic principles, she added.
Giles said that CFLI projects are made by the Canadian High Commission or Embassy in each country where Canada is making funds available.
The Canadian Government supports Transparency International, which is active in over 100 countries and is the parent body of TIGI. Transparency International works to increase awareness and reduce corruption, to improve standards of governance, and to strengthen transparency.
“Transparency International and its affiliates work to improve public awareness and pressure for action through publications and media and public affairs campaigns, including through billboards campaigns such as the current campaign in Guyana,” she said.
President of TIGI, Anand Goolsarran, recently said that with the Guyana Government showing no tangible evidence of wanting to fight corruption, Guyana is likely to be rated very low once again on the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).
He suspects that Guyana would not improve from its current rating of second from bottom in the Western Hemisphere or Americas. And, if Guyana makes any improvements it would be marginal because the country continues to lack anti-corruption mechanisms such as the Public Procurement Commission, the Integrity Commission, and an Ombudsman.
According to the High Commissioner, “The World Economic forum reports that corruption is widely recognized as a major obstacle to the stability, growth and competitiveness of economies. As such, the fight against corruption is strategically crucial for the success of businesses and promoting prosperity. The Government of Canada supports these findings”.
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, though it did not list corruption as one of the 20 barriers to competitiveness in Guyana, highlighted the need for the urgent establishment of the Public Procurement Commission, which the TIGI and Opposition Parties have been calling for.
According to Giles, in June, at the G8 Summit, Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, emphasized that “Corruption is wrong. It starves the poor, it poisons the system, it saps the faith of people in progress. it wrecks the case for aid. When we see it we should condemn it utterly.”
She noted that Canada is proud of its role as a global partner in fighting corruption both at home and abroad.
Giles stressed, “Corruption is a threat to everyone’s well being – from the people who participate in it, to the people who see it happening around them. The perception of corruption puts a strain on public confidence and breeds cynicism and civic discontent. No society can afford not to safeguard against the threat of corruption.”
According to Giles, transparency and the fight against corruption are pertinent to economic growth for all countries. “A transparent and open business environment enables open economies and open societies. This environment in turn promotes security and stability both of which are critical components in encouraging investment,” she said.
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