If Guyana’s social and economic wellbeing is to improve over the next 20 years, then there are a few urgent issues which need to be addressed, one of which includes a comprehensive stocktaking of its transparency and accountability architecture.
This was noted in the Green State Development Strategy Vision 2040: Policy recommendations, financial mechanism, and implementation.
According to the document, this undertaking needs to be done in partnership with civil society and include the political opposition, with a view to modeling international best practice.
Speaking to some elements of the transparency architecture which need urgent attention, the report noted that the Integrity Commission of Guyana has to be adequately resourced to effectively carry out its mandate, following its decade-long hiatus. It was noted that the Commission needs adequate funding to collect, review and, where necessary, investigate annual asset declarations of public officials, and conduct investigations into breaches of the Code of Conduct for public officials. It was also stated in the Strategy that the Government must monitor implementation of the Integrity Commission Act and enhance the Commission’s power of enforcement and sanction if necessary. As an important expression of its leadership on this matter, it was stated that the President and Cabinet must submit their asset declarations and encourage other persons in public life to do the same.
Concurrently, the strategy stressed that public procurement procedures must be strengthened and adopt sustainable public procurement guidelines in line with the ‘green’ agenda. The GSDS stated that the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) must lead a strategic review of the procurement system to identify bottlenecks and weaknesses with a view toward strengthening accountability and enforcement and ensuring equity, fairness and justice in procurement practices.
The document said that this can serve as an inception exercise for the PPC and help to target follow-up actions, whilst also building trust with the public. It was also noted that the PPC must consult with the Office of the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee to gain insights on the reasons for recurring problems cited in the annual Auditor General’s reports. This review should inform an update of the Public Financial Management Action Plan, the document noted.
Further to this, it was noted that improving public access to information and encouraging citizen participation will go a long way to building trust and confidence in public institutions and processes. As Guyana’s Access to Information law is updated in the long-term, the report said that enhancing transparency and access to extractive industry information is a priority, as required under Guyana’s Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) obligations.
The strategy also stressed the importance of citizen and interest group participation in decision-making which is enshrined in Article 13 of the Constitution. It said that this will continue to be a feature of the country’s development process. In addition to this, it was noted that civil society and citizen participation are powerful tools for enforcing public accountability.
It also stated that a strengthened, independent Judiciary will be better resourced to drive greater effectiveness in the development of its human resources, management systems and physical facilities.
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