By Abena Rockcliffe
Chanting catchphrases like “say no to corruption” and “zero percent corruption, 100 percent development,”
several concerned citizens joined Transparency Guyana Inc. (TGI) on its corruption march from Umana Yana to Parliament Buildings in the heart of the city.
This was done yesterday as the world observed “International Anti-Corruption Day.”
Head of Transparency Institute Gino Persaud told the media that this is the second consecutive year that the march has been held and noted that the organization is looking to make it an annual feature.
Persaud explained that the march is done as a public awareness initiative so that the effects of corruption will not be overlooked by the general populace.
In speaking about the fact that Guyana is ranked one of the most corrupt countries in the world, Persaud indicated that TGI has not been expecting any kind of response from the government with regards to the report He said that the government doesn’t have a track record of responding in any positive way to corruption, but instead chooses to attack the report.
He said that the report is a useful tool that is being used internationally and is recognized as an indicator of deception of corruption.
“Guyana doesn’t need an index to tell us that corruption is a serious problem… it’s not really about CPI (Corruption Perception Index) or any other international indicator. We all have a role to play to eliminate corruption.”
Addressing the small turnout, Persaud said that he is encouraged by the few who turned out, but hoped that the numbers would grow in future. He noted that corruption is a sensitive issue in Guyana and that TGI “gets lots of support behind closed doors as not everyone is enthusiastic about putting their name and face publicly, in terms of a march, but we know that the concerns exist.”
He said many have expressed fear of victimization but usually support TGI’s annual dinner which was held last night at the Pegasus.
Persaud said that TGI extended invitations to the government, diplomatic community and the private sector along with the political opposition, civil society organizations and trade unions.
But even though the opposition is so loud on matters relating to corruption, little representation was made yesterday.
While the Alliance For Change had two high-ranking representatives—General Secretary, David Patterson and Treasurer, Dominic Gaskin—no member of A Partnership for National Unity attended the march.
Opposition Leader David Granger told the media that his coalition could not attended the anti – corruption march because of its own planned protest outside the Office of the President, which has been ongoing for more than eight weeks.
Granger said he was surprised that TGI would organize a march for the same day as the coalition’s protest. However, the march was planned to be held on International Anti-Corruption Day.
Efforts to find out why no government official attended proved futile.
Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his message on the occasion, stated that corruption suppresses economic growth and undermines the sustainable management of the environment, and called on all persons to stamp it out.
The 2014 results of the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index showed improvements for Guyana.
A country’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of zero, representing highly corrupt to 100, representing very clean. Guyana scored 30 this year compared to 27 last year.
But notwithstanding these improvements, the country remains listed in the very corrupt category; lagging far behind its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) peers. Guyana placed 124th out of 175 countries with Haiti coming in 161; being the only regional country to do worse than Guyana.
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