Apr 13, 2016 News
Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. (TIGI) will be sending a series of questions to Minister of State Joseph Harmon regarding his involvement in a number of controversial activities.
The move to do so comes in wake of President David Granger’s response to statements which were made initially by TIGI.
The local corruption watchdog had said that the curse of corruption continues to haunt Guyana even under a new administration. Its conclusion was premised on Harmon’s quiet appointment of Brian Tiwarie of BK International as his personal business advisor and his alleged interference in the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) in halting a seizure operation of a number of vehicles which were owned by Chinese logging company, BaiShanLin.
Granger made it clear, however, that the corruption watchdog should have questioned the Minister of State before making hasty comments.
It is upon this ground that TIGI announced late last night that it has taken a decision to request a meeting with the Minister of State.
In a statement to the press it said, “In response to President Granger, TIGI will make an exception to our policy of using what is publicly available and will write Minister Harmon to request a meeting and to send him a set of questions on the matter at hand.”
It continued, “Without fear or favour, TIGI remains committed to working with the government, citizens and other organizations to foster transparency and to stamp out corruption.”
Transparency Guyana went further to highlight sections of the draft Code of Conduct and how it implicates the Minister of State who said that Tiwarie’s appointment was a mere honorific title. He had said, too that similar titles were awarded to “those who have helped us in the campaign and those who have the capacity to help us further.”
TIGI noted however that the draft Code of Conduct reads in part, “Public office holders have a duty to … act with propriety on all occasions in accordance with the public trust and confidence placed in them. Public office holders have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole…. Public office holders are reminded that they owe a duty to the public and must consider themselves servants of the people.”
It continues, “A conflict-of-interest situation arises when the ‘private interests’ of the public office holder compete or conflict with the interests of the State. ‘Private interests’ mean both the financial and personal interests of the official and staff or those of their connections, including … other clubs and societies to which they belong; and any person to whom they owe a favour or are obligated in any way.”
TIGI also noted that the draft Code of Conduct makes it clear that Public officials “should avoid compromising themselves or their office[s] which may lead to an actual or perceived conflict of interest. Failure to avoid or declare any conflict of interest may give rise to criticism of favouritism, abuse of authority or even allegations of corruption.”
It is upon this premise that the corruption watchdog contended that corruption takes many forms.
It said that corruption not only includes the more traditional forms of bribery, kickbacks, extortion, nepotism and cronyism, but also abuse of functions, illicit enrichment and trading in influence and patronage which involves rewarding political support with favours, contracts, appointments, subsidies, prestige and other valued benefits.
It argued that the draft Code of Conduct and the initial statement from TIGI, reflect an appreciation of the true nature and extent of corruption in Guyana; and the role of public officers who, by virtue of their high profile, are important tipping agents in the quest to dislodge the culture of corruption.
TIGI stressed that the failure to embrace the spirit in which the statement was issued is not only inconsistent with the aforementioned draft Code of Conduct, but it represents a missed opportunity to restore confidence in public institutions and offices.
Transparency Institute Guyana called on all to take a deeper look at corruption to understand that although some practices have become so deeply entrenched that they seem normal, they constitute corruption.
To this end, TIGI said it will launch an education programme that will begin by addressing institutional trust and campaign financing.
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