In Guyana, corruption has become a culture, despite the talk and all the promises to weed it out. Almost every day, there are stories in the news about corruption and so far, only a few have been prosecuted. Corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain. It should not be taken lightly, but it was under the last administration.
Its implications are profound and wide-ranging in that it has spread to all spheres in society. It continues to destroy the psyche of the people andis jeopardizing the prospects for economic growth and human development.
It has undermined confidence and trust in the country. There is a sense of resignation on the part of the people as this cancerous disease continues unabated. Corruption is no longer a perception as the PPP had claimed; it is real. It exists in all levels of society among people and institutions. The bribers are usually the people who offer kick-backs to politicians, law enforcement and public servants in order to avoid being prosecuted, obtain contracts, or receive benefits. Corruption has thrived in Guyana because many have become wealthy andgovernments have turned a blind eye to it.
Corruption is not only a political problem, it is a social disease, and while accusations are made from both sides of the political divide, the cancer is spreading.
But there was a time just a few years ago when the average citizen in Guyana did not believe that corruption was a major problem in the country. The public had confidence in the integrity of public servants and persons in positions of public trust. Many believed that corruption or the misappropriated of public funds for personal gain was an issue for other Caribbean countries and not Guyana.
It was only during elections that one would hear politicians accuse their opponents of being corrupt, but they hardly even provided evidence to substantiate their claims. While such allegations may have influenced some voters, no high profile person was ever charged and prosecuted.
However, there has been corruption in Guyana for years. During the last fifteen years of PPP rule, corruption was so rampant that it was brought to the forefront of discussion by the public. In the last year, several audit reports have shown that there was massive corruption under the last administration in both the private and the public sectors.
The bribers are usually the people from the private sector and the recipients are those in the public sector. There are many types of corruption, but the most common involves kickbacks from the granting of government contracts to contractors. Another is the offer of bribes to ease the difficulty in doing business.
There have been several documented cases of corrupt practices by senior public officials in the last government, but because of political patronage, they were not fired. In fact, they did not even raise an eyebrow because everyone was doing it, and also the misguided notion that corruption does not kill. The truth is corruption does kill, and it is a death that lingers on the economy and affects the people, especially the poor.
The government, when in opposition had promised to weed out corruption if elected to office. Now after eighteen months at the helm of the government, it has not delivered on its promise, and even though there is a firm commitment to do so, it has not happened despite the audit reports.
Being transparent and accountable could go a long way towards reducing corruption. Interestingly, the tables have been reversed as the government is now being accused of corruption by the opposition in much the same way it had accused the opposition prior to the May 2015 election.
It is about time the government delivers on its promise to end corruption.It would be in the country’s best interest and would bolster its own credibilityIt will be unfortunate if it does not.
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