“Perceptions of corruption continue to remain high; those perceptions would not go away in the near future”
By Kiana Wilburg
Given the fact that Guyana is still to make significant strides in the fight against corruption, Director of Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. (TIGI), Gino Persaud revealed that it should come as no surprise if the country ranks poorly again on the 2015
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).
He made this statement at the book launch of Former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran at Pegasus Hotel some weeks ago.
In 2012, Guyana ranked a very poor 28 out of 100 points in the CPI. The said report showed Guyana doing worse than every other country in Caricom except for Haiti, which has also traditionally been one of the worst performers.
Persaud said, “Perceptions of corruption continue to remain high; those perceptions would not go away in the near future; and the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which is due in December of this year, is unlikely to see any significant improvement.”
He said that given the fact that the international community as well as foreign investors place reliance on the Index in terms of how they view Guyana, especially for business opportunities, a gigantic effort is needed at all levels to improve Guyana’s standing on the CPI.
Goolsarran in his recent writings recalled other pertinent points raised by the Chairman at the ceremony which was well attended by government officials including, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan.
At the event, Persaud referred to the efforts TIGI made over the years in promoting good governance,
transparency and accountability. He also reminded of the body’s persistent calls for all public revenues to be paid into the Consolidated Fund; the activation of the Procurement Commission; the effective functioning of the Integrity Commission; the overhaul of the existing legislation on access to information; and the introduction of legislation on whistleblower protection and campaign financing.
In addition to this, Goolsarran recalled statements made by Persaud which were in sync with those in his second book about character assassinations and vilifications of persons who have displayed the courage to speak out on issues that negatively impact on good governance, transparency and accountability.
The Chartered Accountant said, “These attacks were State-sponsored, and many of the perpetrators were anonymous letter writers and bloggers who have long been suspected, now confirmed, of being compensated financially using the resources of the State. These are in themselves not only acts of corruption, but also represent the misappropriation of public funds.”
He added, “I am also on record as having stated the accounting officers and/or those responsible for signing the contracts should be held personally responsible. The termination of the services of these persons is simply not enough, while those who initiated these unconscionable and despicable acts, indeed the architects of this State-sponsored criminal behaviour, are allowed to get away scot-free.”
He reminded of how Persaud was a victim of such attacks, and was blocked by someone higher up in the then Administration from taking up an important position with a foreign company operating in Guyana because of his association with TIGI.
Goolsarran said, “These immoral, unethical and evil acts should never again be allowed to be rear their ugly heads, and hopefully they have been relegated to the indignity of the dustbin of Guyanese history.”
The TIGI Director at the book launch also referred to a letter written to Transparency International by a former PPP Minister requesting the parent body to take appropriate action to purge the Institute of members whom he claimed were bitter and were displaying anti-government sentiments. The letter was however ignored.
Goolsarran then sought to invite the public to read “The truth about the restoration of public accountability in Guyana”, as contained in Unit 28 of the said book.
Since its establishment, the Chairman of TIGI said that the TIGI passed through very rough times and was always swimming against the tide. He said that many a time, members of TIGI felt that the Institute would have gone under but “we held steadfastly to our sense of purpose and in the end we prevailed as the foremost civil society organization devoted to the promotion of good governance, transparency and accountability, and to fighting corruption.”
He added, “It is therefore a welcome relief that the Prime Minister and other Ministers of the Government graced the occasion with their presence.”
Nagamootoo, in his remarks at the event said jokingly that if he did not attend the launch, “it would be an act of corruption.”
Additionally, Goolsarran said that TIGI alone cannot fight corruption. He said that the Institute is on record as having offered to reach out and work with government and the private sector in a genuine partnership to rid this country of corruption.
“For this to happen, however, there must be an acknowledgement of the extent to which corruption is perceived to exist in Guyana and a genuine commitment on the part of the Government to address the issue. Criticisms must not be viewed as attacks on the Government, and the attitude of “circling the wagons” and asking “where is the evidence?” only serves to exacerbate the problem,” the former Auditor General said.
He said however that so far, the signs are encouraging, and TIGI under its new President must not hesitate to renew its offer to the new Administration and the Private Sector.
Referring to results of the CPI as it relates to Trinidad and Tobago, Goolsarran said that the Governor-General is reported to have told the Government “Stop the arrogance.”
He said that most governments, regardless of how they feel about the index as it relates to their countries, accept it in good faith, and do whatever it takes to bring about an improvement in their countries’ standing.
“It is time Guyana wakes up to this reality,’ he concluded.
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