Mar 05, 2016 News
Guyana continues to rank poorly on the International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) but the
government of the day insists that significant moves are being made to address this state of affairs.
Asked yesterday whether it believes that Government’s efforts are sufficient, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) answered in the negative. But before elaborating on its reasons for holding this view, it heavily criticized the credibility of the international report.
In fact, members said that they do not even believe the report and what it says about Guyana regarding corruption.
PSC Member, Gerry Gouveia, was candid in telling the media yesterday that he has a “big problem” with the report “mainly because it is a perception index.” He said that the PSC is concerned that the Integrity Commission and the Public Procurement Commission are taking too long to get up and running.
“But I would say to you that I take great offence to that report and I would say to you that we have never been approached by the people who do those surveys to get our opinions. We don’t know where they are getting that opinion and so the Corruption Perceptions Index is one which seems to be lopsided…”
These thoughts were expressed during the PSC press conference which was held at the Waterloo street head office, yesterday.
While the PSC has no confidence in the CPI reports, opinions expressed by representatives of the American, British and Canadian missions clearly indicated that they believe the report can be quite valuable to any Government.
British High Commissioner, Greg Quinn, said that it is a point where he feels he and the Commission Member
might differ on the topic.
He said that Gouveia’s point is fair, if indeed they have never been approached but in terms of the CPI itself, he said that he and his Government see it as being useful and relevant because it is a perception report on what the people actually feel is happening.
“And if people feel that there is a corruption problem then that by itself is an issue that is worthy of being addressed because that is the fundamental problem…People believe that there is a corruption problem and that is one of the issues which must not be ignored… should they be talking to the PSC? But that aside, the CPI is still a valuable and useful process.”
Deputy Head of Mission of the US Embassy, Bryan Hunt, said that from the American perspective, it all depends on what the CPI is being used for.
The Ambassador said that any statistical survey or one that is based on perceptions can be a constructive instrument once used correctly.
Hunt explained, “If someone is taking the CPI and saying, ‘because of this rank, Guyana is more corrupt than (X country)’ then that would be an incorrect use of that tool.
“But what the tool tells you is how people perceive Guyana and that is important because the way people perceive Guyana, drives investment decisions both from the interior and from the exterior.
“So it is important to know if you are perceived to be corrupt to know what you need to change whether that is in policy, media engagement, or public education.”
The American diplomat said that at the end of the day, the CPI is a positive tool in understanding how people
think and why Guyana may be on a difficult road as opposed to other countries.
But Gouveia remained unconvinced. He told the media that the CPI report is based on opinions offered from Guyanese within the 83,000 square mile border and not of those in the Diaspora. He said that when one takes this into consideration and the fact that the PSC has never been consulted or any of its members then it would be hard to place any confidence in the report.
Gouveia said, “It should be compulsory that you engage the private sector because if there is any corruption taking place then the formal private sector would be in the middle of it…but to totally ignore the private sector and come up with this report is damaging our country.”
The PSC member said that he is still not satisfied with the efforts on Government’s part in dealing with the perception of corruption in Guyana. He reiterated the Commission’s call for the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission and the revival of the Integrity Commission.
Hunt noted that the Government may also want to work on getting its message out there; a message about what it is doing to address the perception of corruption in Guyana.
The American diplomat said that it may very well be an education issue.
He added that perhaps some of the persons being interviewed for the CPI survey may not be aware of Government’s efforts to combat what is going on and as such, may very well give an uninformed perception.
The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index which was released two months ago by Transparency International show that despite much talk by nations to fight corruption, countries including Guyana have shown little sign of improvement.
Guyana received a score of 29, signaling a slip one place down from its score last year. But Guyana did improve in ranking. In 2014 it was ranked 124 out of 175 countries but in 2015 it moved up to 119 out of 168 countries.
Three other countries tied with Guyana in the 119th position. These were Azerbaijan, Russia and Sierra Leone.
The report said that any score below 50 indicates a serious corruption problem. Guyana has never been above. Additionally two-thirds of the countries surveyed scored less than 50.
Guyana’s Continental and Regional neighbours did better than it in 2015. The report revealed that Trinidad and Tobago scored 39 while Brazil and Jamaica scored 38 and 41 respectively. Suriname earned a score of 36 while Haiti got a score of 17.
Denmark and Finland were the only countries close to a perfect score with 91 and 90 respectively.
The Corruption Perceptions Index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide. The scores are measured from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
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