By Kiana Wilburg
While Guyana showed marginal improvement in its corruption perception score in an international report, Chairman
of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Ramesh Persaud says that he is concerned that the perceived level of corruption is too high.
On this premise, he called on the government to “stop the attacks, character assassination and vilification of citizens who have identified corruption as a serious problem that needs urgent and radical state intervention to stem its disastrous consequences for economic development”.
The 2014 Annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) was released on Wednesday and out of the 175 countries surveyed by the body, Guyana ranked 124th, with a score of 30 (0 being highly corrupt;100 being very clean.)
Guyana improved by three points over its 2013 rating on the Global Corruption Perception Index, but the country remains at the bottom of the list of English-Speaking Caribbean countries. The only other countries in the region that ranked below Guyana were Haiti and Venezuela. Guyana’s rating places it among countries such as Vietnam, Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Mauritania.
Persaud opined that the index is not a perfect measure of the actual level of corruption, but it is a meaningful indicator that should not be ignored.
The PSC Chairman said that it is known that corruption is present in all societies, but some take more action than others by putting in place the necessary laws and institutional framework to minimize and eliminate the scourge.
He noted too that corruption in the public sector cannot exist without the support of some members in the business community or the general public, thus he called on private companies that engage in these immoral practices to hold themselves to a higher standard and “desist from spreading this cancer on the Guyanese society”.
Persaud said that the absence of effective governance mechanisms to adequately fight corruption in Guyana contributes to the public opinion being more towards the negative end.
Since the release of the report, Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc. (TIGI), reiterated its earlier calls for civil society members and groups such as the Guyana Bar Association, Guyana Association of Women Lawyers, Private Sector Commission, Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the trade unions, among others, to get involved in combating corruption.
It called on the civil society bodies to speak out against corruption and be proactive within its own membership on tackling the scourge. TIGI also called on the civil society bodies to partner with it in order to embrace more collective efforts.
It then renewed its previous calls to government for measures such as the urgent appointment of members of the Integrity Commission; the urgent appointment of members of the Public Procurement Commission; Implementation of laws to regulate election campaign financing; Implementation of modern anti-corruption legislation; Implementation of whistle-blowing legislation and the enforcement of existing anti-corruption laws by investigating and prosecuting the corrupt, among others, to be put in place.
In this regard, Persaud emphasized that he strongly supports TIGI in its call for the government to take action.
The PSC Chairman, in addition to what TIGI called for, asked for the enforcement of the existing anti-corruption laws by investigating and prosecuting the corrupt; strengthening existing anti-corruption institutions such as the Guyana Police Force, for example, which is weak and unable to counter serious white collar crime and corrupt activities; and to ensure that all public moneys are placed to the credit of the Consolidated Fund.
He called as well for no public expenditure to be incurred without Parliamentary approval; for government to ensure that all public officials in positions of trust are held accountable and also for it to ensure integrity in public life
Countries in the region that outperformed Guyana include Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago which scored 38 points, Dominica with 58 points, St Vincent and the Grenadines which racked up 67 points and Barbados which scored 74 points. The Bahamas was awarded 71 points.
The findings on Guyana by the international anti-corruption body are based primarily on surveys carried out by four reputable international institutions – the International Country Guide, World Bank, World Economic Forum and Global Insight Country.
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