Guyana never escapes international attention when it comes to corruption. The fact that the country is rated as one of the most corrupt in the world is not something that we should take lightly. It is most embarrassing and it exposes the will, or lack thereof, of the authorities to stamp out this most heinous practice.
Listening to those prefer to pull wool over the eyes of the people, one would sincerely believe that corruption is not a norm in the society. There is the often repeated line that all who have evidence of corruption should provide same for appropriate action to be taken.
There are many people who have done so and got nowhere. The so-called authorities are not bothered about the level of corruption in the society. The corrupt practices are many. There is the clear signal that people could expect no action even if they are caught.
Corruption in the police force has been a concern for quite some time. One remembers several years ago when the drug enforcement unit busted a man who was supposed to be trafficking in cocaine as this man attempted to board a flight out of the country. The corruption took the form of the ranks manipulating the evidence so that any conviction was impossible.
They first reported on the colour of the suitcase in which the drug was found, but by the time the suitcase containing the drug had reached CID headquarters, its colour had changed three times.
As far back as 2000, the government was provided with evidence of rampant corruption, particularly among people who held high office in the land. One remembers convicted United States consular officer at the Georgetown embassy, Thomas Carroll, speaking of so much corruption that helped him make millions of dollars by selling visas when he was grilled by his captors.
This information was made available to the Guyana government but, as we had come to expect, nothing was ever done. No one was ever brought to book. In any other society, the people involved would have been called on to resign and in others they would have faced criminal charges. But not in Guyana.
This culture of corruption reaches down to the root of our society. We have often heard of low level (and admittedly inadequately remunerated) civil servants demanding money to provide a service for which they are paid from the public treasury. They take money to deliver birth certificates, to provide copies of administrative documents like transports and the like; there are those teachers who, despite drastic measures and improved systems being put in place, are still risk taking money to place children in schools for which they are not qualified; and there are those persons who would think nothing of paying policemen to look the other way.
Policemen are being found to have conducted robberies while others have been known to loan their firearm to criminals to execute robberies. We have cases of public officers defrauding the government and simply being transferred or sent on leave.
How can we justify ignoring the incompetence of public officers, right to the point where the higher authorities excuse their incompetence and reinstall them?
A statement attributed to the local arm of Transparency International in relation to the international body’s Annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) speaks volumes of how Guyana is being seen by reputable entities worldwide.
“The ranking of Guyana on the 2014 CPI is just another international indicator which taken together with the local reality, simply increases the public perception that corruption remains a chronic problem in Guyana of crisis proportions.”
It will take a Herculean task to rid this country of corruption. We sadly believe that things would only get worse because those not yet corrupt are beginning to realise that corrupt transactions really do pay and can actually enhance their lifestyles.
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