Dec 09, 2020 News
By Kiana Wilburg
Kaieteur Nes – In Papua New Guinea, almost US$467M in oil money is lost annually to corruption.
The politicians who siphoned off the nation’s wealth live like kings and queens, while approximately 39.9 percent of the population live below the national poverty line.
In spite of its massive oil resources, Papua New Guinea is considered to be one of the poorest countries in the Pacific.
Sadly, this country is not alone in the basket of those that have failed to manage the industry to the maximum benefit of its citizenry. Uganda, another African nation that is rich with oil, has lost more than US$600B to corruption. Because of this level of theft, it remains among the list of poorest countries in the world.
Even Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producing nation, lost at least US$600 billion dollars in oil money to corrupt officials since 1960 while its people live in poverty. In fact, 40 percent of the people in Nigeria live in poverty.
As for Guyana’s South American neighbour, Venezuela, it has also lost significantly. This Spanish-speaking nation has actually lost more than US$350B to corruption and due to economic sanctions from the US; poverty levels have surged to 90 percent.
When one considers the extent to which these countries have suffered or ended up worse off with the discovery of oil, international and local stakeholders have said that Guyana has to begin urgent reforms of its anti-corruption systems or the consequences could be ten-fold.
Chartered Accountant and attorney-at-law, Christopher Ram, is one who emphatically agrees that Guyana must strengthen its governance systems to keep corruption at bay.
During a recent interview on Kaieteur Radio’s Guyana’s Oil and You, Ram said: “…Guyana did not need oil to become corrupt. Guyana is a seriously corrupt place and obviously, oil with its vast number of digits has corruption on a considerably different scale. But I don’t think there has been a sufficient effort to tackle the question of corruption…”
The lawyer added: “…We can have all types of mechanisms for addressing corruption but if there is not the serious will and if the leadership of the country, whether in terms of politics, government, opposition, churches, and businesses…if we don’t get serious about corruption, and stemming the tide of corruption, if we don’t pay people proper wages…then there will always be a strong inducement to engage in corruption.”
Ram stressed that if the nation’s leaders are truly serious about developing the country and the sector, it would have to ensure that the wealth from the sector will not be used “to line the pockets of a few privileged persons while the persons at the bottom just gets crumbs.”
He concluded that the acceleration of the development in the oil-rich Stabroek block, without question, warrants urgent steps towards tough anticorruption mechanisms.
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