Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
Mar 15, 2017 News
The public interest scrutiny into the affairs and decision of government were on Saturday lauded for its contribution to maintaining democracy. Recognising the need and benefit of such scrutiny was Minister of Public Security
Khemraj Ramjattan who said that Guyana would be half-baked if such ‘watchdogs’ are not effective.
Ramjattan made these remarks in the feature address at the Annual Fund-Raising Dinner for Transparency Institute Guyana Incorporated (TIGI) at the Pegasus Hotel. Ramjattan said that corruption destabilizes and makes insecure the whole society, destroys institutions and values of democracy.
“It involves the illicit acquisition of wealth by a few to the detriment of thousands and even millions… Corruption has a capacity to seep into the judiciary of many countries too. A report examining the Judiciary in 48 countries found that judicial corruption was pervasive in 30.”
According to Ramjattan knowing all of this and being concerned with allegations of corrupt behaviour and maladministration of state agencies caused the government, after taking office, to authorise 49 forensic audits, five of which are still to be completed.
He said that the results have confirmed the allegations of corruption and maladministration which lead to the reports being reviewed by Cabinet and made available to the public on the Ministry of Finance’s website.
“Further, Cabinet decided that in those Forensic Audit Reports which required action to be taken by the respective Boards, such action must be taken by those Boards. And where criminality was suspected, those must be taken to the Commissioner of Police.”
Ramjattan explained that it is the responsibility of the respective Boards to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the Auditors which involved the reviewing and tightening of systems and procedures.
However, the Minister said that TIGI can help in making an unbiased assessment here by comparing what were recommended as against what have been implemented.
The forensic audits which produced findings requiring police attention were forwarded to the Commissioner of Police and then relayed to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), Ramjattan said.
“And as we all know, investigations are on-going. Government, especially my Ministry, was concerned about the perception of bias and accusation of political motivation concerning those audits sent for police investigation. It is for this reason assistance was requested from the British High Commission to have an expert in Dr. Sam Sittlington come in to advise and guide as much as possible, the Special Organized Crime Unit.
“Of course, the accusations from some of those fingered or called in for questioning will continue unabated, as we have seen.”
Being on the topic of SOCU, Ramjattan unequivocally told the gathering that there has been no government, ministerial or political intervention whatsoever. He confirmed having wine with Sittlington at the Oasis Café to simply thank the financial fraud expert for his services and bid him farewell as he left Guyana soon after.
Ramjattan went further to speak on his government’s efforts to ensure transparency and accountability with the setting up of the Bid Protest Committee and the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission.
On the PPC, the Public Security Minister said, “This major constitutional prescription has now been satisfied and an extensive scrutiny of all major contracts for services and goods can now be undertaken, with necessary remedial action taken. I am very proud that the Procurement Commission is here with us after some 13 years in the making.”
In keeping with the country’s international obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, Ramjattan said that Government has taken the State Assets Recovery Bill to the National Assembly.
He said, too, that the Whistle-blower Bill and the Witness Protection Bill which are now in Cabinet will soon be forwarded to the National Assembly for passage. Ramjattan said that the State Asset Recovery Bill has caused controversy due to major misconceptions and misapprehensions.
He explained, “Civil recovery of asset is an action against property and not the person; it does not carry any penal sanction against the person holding or in possession of the property but instead pursues recovery of property which is the product of unlawful conduct.”
According to him, civil asset recovery already exists under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 and will continue under the State Asset Recovery Bill as part of government’s policy to shape an environment for transparency, honesty and integrity and deterrence against corruption.
As it relates to scrutiny in the extractive sector, Ramjattan said that government wants the scrutiny of international watchdogs such as the ‘Global Witness’ and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
He said that government wants its application to EITI to be dealt with expeditiously so that another high threshold in matters of transparency and accountability can be met.
“The country’s EITI Secretariat has been set up, a Coordinator named, the Multi-Stakeholder Group launched and a number of requirements already have been met. Our aim is to ensure responsible and transparent governance in our extractive resource sector.”
The Minister admitted that people in public offices are humans and not angels. He said that this cannot be cured with the implantation of ethical standards but stressed that until that time comes around, “watchdogs such as TIGI and the Free Press are the best things we have going for us.”
Both Govt. and Opposition are hiding from the press on oil
Jun 02, 2023Kaieteur Sports – Female player Dinelle Lindee and Andrew Bennett, both from the rapid rising, Rose Hall Community Center Cricket Club, were the latest young cricketers to benefit from this...
Jun 02, 2023
Jun 02, 2023
Jun 02, 2023
Jun 02, 2023
Jun 02, 2023
Kaieteur News – Major fires always seem to occur in Guyana when few persons are around. From the destruction of the... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – The report on May 17, from the World Meteorological Organization, (WMO) that... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]