– Says the process is an ongoing one
By: Kiana Wilburg
Even though there are criticisms to the contrary, the Alliance For Change (AFC) insists that in a period of 20 months, the coalition administration has been able to put a “significant dent” in corruption.
The party made this, among other comments, at its first bi-weekly press conference which was held last week Friday at its Kitty Headquarters.
At the level of ministries and other government agencies, Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson, was the first to contend that there have been meaningful improvements in the fight against corruption.
Speaking for his Ministry, Patterson said he had the “good fortune” to be in charge of an area that is susceptible to fraud. And within 18 months, the General Secretary of the AFC was proud to disclose that the opportunities for corruption to occur have been reduced considerably. While no one can claim that corruption has been eliminated altogether, the Public Infrastructure Minister stated that moves have been made to get the process started.
The AFC General Secretary also stated that every report of wrong doing in his field or against his staff is always investigated without fear or favour.
Offering similar remarks was, Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes. Hughes told Kaieteur News that the administration is committed to the process of reducing corruption in Guyana.
She emphasized however that the task is not an overnight one as corruption has become a culture in Guyana. In this regard, the Executive Member of the AFC said that the coalition administration has been focusing on ensuring that ministries and agencies have the necessary checks and balances to reduce all forms of corruption. Hughes said, too, that the importance and significance of taking such an action cannot be emphasized enough.
To cement her position, Hughes cited a recent example of a citizen who was trying to secure a piece of land, but was told by the authorities that none in the area he wanted was available.
However, “As the man was walking back to his car, someone came up to him and told him that if he made $120, 000 available to them, they could get the land for him.”
“That is a reality all over and the course of action for fixing those challenges cannot be done in a year and a half. It can be done by ensuring that you are constantly monitoring the systems governing the process and ensuring that such perpetrators are brought to the courts and punished. The only way we can fix it is when more people are willing to bring the information and are willing to take a stand against corruption,” Hughes said.
The Minister also gave another example of how various forms of corruption seem to have become a way of life in Guyana. She related that a few years ago, she was driving too fast and was pulled over by a traffic officer.
“He said that he either writes me a ticket of if I want I could ‘leff something’ for him. I told him write me the ticket. Indeed the ticket costs me more, but I am not going to encourage that. First of all, I am not prepared to go down that road or have him come back to me another time and say, ‘you better give me a raise because remember de day when …’ No, No, No. Not me. So it comes back to our integrity. We have to be honest and look at what we have become in Guyana…”
At the level of state, Leader of the AFC, Khemraj Ramjattan believes that there have been major improvements in the fight against corruption. In this regard, he pointed to the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission.
The Minister of Public Security expressed, “We have done what everyone should be proud of when it comes to ensuring that this big anti-corruption institution called the Public Procurement Commission came into being in the second year of our being in office. It took how long for us to get it? Almost a whole decade and more and this is in spite of the fact that the Constitution made provision for it.”
The AFC Leader also chided the previous Cabinet that was run by the PPP for such a constitutional office not being established. He said that it was the Cabinet of former President Bharrat Jagdeo that set the tone for all other cabinets under the PPP to never give up that no-objection role in the public procurement process.
He said, “We have been clamouring for that while in opposition…And having it today is a far, far, cry from what we have come from… “
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