When in opposition, this government made many promises. There was the promise of good governance, the promise to tackle corruption, and to be honest, transparent and accountable to the people. It also promised swift prosecution against those public officials in the last administration who were found culpable of corruption and other illegalities.
The government promised a clean sweep from the PPP government, which was deemed to be highly corrupt. But approaching three years in office and after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on forensic audits and on the State Asset Recovery Agency, the level of prosecution is sadly wanting.
Many believe that there are still many corrupt people around but they are being ignored. The suggestion is that they have made people in the present administration equally corrupt by paying bribes and granting favours beyond the scope of favours.
Someone once said that to ignore corruption is being deceptive and could lead to social decay. If there is the perception that corruption is being ignored in certain quarters then things have turned full circle.
One of the principles of good governance is to hold one’s self and others accountable. A government that is not accountable to the people does not have the moral authority to govern a nation. The government has shown signs that it is prepared to be transparent. This transparency has seen the release of the oil contracts, the publication of financial records and constant press conferences to answer any question that the public may have.
During the PPP tenure in office, there was solid evidence that some public officials used the state funds and resources to benefit themselves, relatives and friends. Many believe that the actions of the major political parties when in government leave no doubt that they lack integrity to govern and that they are above the people and not accountable to them.
President David Granger says that he will brook no corruption but he has no way of knowing how corrupt the people he leads are. There is no accounting to the Integrity Commission, which would indicate the growth of the assets of the individual.
In this manner, this government is behaving in the same manner as its predecessor.
While in office, the PPP government made several unilateral decisions including imposing a five percent annual increase in pay for civil/public servants. This time around, there are negotiations. These negotiations have not been conclusive but the increases were paid. That is a sign that the government will not be dictatorial yet the people want to see the palms of the leaders. They are hearing the rumours.
There is no evidence that any of today’s leaders have converted state assets to his or her personal use. There has been no acquisition of state lands for personal gain but there is the fear that approaches have been made by the oil company and offers accepted. This may not be the case but the people have no way of knowing because there is no annual declaration.
While the government’s performance in other areas such as the appointment of constitutional bodies and Commission of Inquiries has been excellent, its pronouncement as to when Parliament should meet to conduct the people’s business is disappointing.
This paucity of sittings of the National Assembly does not bode well for the government, which claims to believe in democracy. It should be a cause of concern for everyone because it is unacceptable and it is not the level of democracy that the government had promised the people.
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