A recent routine visit by a team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to gauge the state of the economy has found that there is an increase of public official and other exposed persons who are complying by declaring their assets.
The IMF mission team, in a recently released statement, disclosed that it encourages building on recent progress in strengthening transparency and governance.
It was explained that Guyana completed its first Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Report in 2019 and started implementing its recommendations to further enhance transparency in the extractive industry.
“In addition, the recent re-establishment of the Integrity Commission has resulted in over 50 percent of politically exposed persons (PEPs) and other required officers making declarations within the first year.
“Ensuring greater compliance over time with the asset declaration regime would underscore the authorities’ support and commitment to the UN convention against corruption.”
In recent months, the Integrity Commission has been publishing names of public officials, including Regional Executive Officers, Permanent Secretaries and others who have failed to file their declarations on time.
The declaration is supposed to help determine whether public officials have recorded sudden rise in their wealth which could be as a result of corruption.
“The mission also welcomes the progress made in strengthening public procurement, and encourages the authorities to ensure timely compliance with existing regulations and take further actions to fortify the transparency of the procurement system,” the IMF statement from the team said.
The team was led by Arnold McIntyre. It visited Georgetown during June 3 to June 14 to hold discussions for the 2019 Article IV Consultation.
The team met with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo; Finance Minister Winston Jordan; Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Basil Williams; Central Bank Governor, Dr. Gobind Ganga, other senior officials, representatives from the private sector, banks, the opposition party, labor unions, and other stakeholders.
According to the IMF team, commendable progress has been made in strengthening the framework for anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing, based on the 2017 national risk assessment.
“Guyana has been officially removed from the European Commission’s Money-Laundering Blacklist in February 2019 and is scheduled to undertake a mutual evaluation by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force in 2022.”
It was explained that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has been actively examining cases relating to suspicious transactions, money laundering, terrorist financing and criminal proceeds including those of PEPs, and is working towards greater collaboration with other global FIUs.
With regards to looking elsewhere to develop the country’s economy, the IMF team said that structural reforms are needed to support economic diversification, and achieve inclusive and equitable growth.
“Infrastructure bottlenecks, skilled labour shortages, and weaknesses in electricity supply are major obstacles to growth. Staff supports the authorities’ proposed increase in investments to improve access to roads, electricity, and telecommunication services to enhance economic activities, including the hinterland.”
The IMF team urged that simultaneous investment in upgrading the education system is critical and would enhance skills and employment prospects.
“To address skills gap and satisfy an expected increase in labour demand, Guyana could adopt more liberal or open immigration policies, including free movement of all categories of workers from other CARICOM countries.
Promoting more flexible working arrangements could help increase female labour participation. Further regulatory and administrative reforms—including property rights and insolvency regime and reducing bureaucratic red-tape—would help strengthen competitiveness.”
The IMF Executive Board is expected to discuss Guyana’s Article IV consultation in August 2019.
The team had found that Guyana’s growth is expected to improve as Guyana readies for oil production in a few months.
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