Corruption- The Time Has Come To Take Action

Corruption- The Time Has Come To Take Action

by Ralph Ramkarran – Guest Columnist – Demerara Waves

I wrote and spoke about the issue of corruption in Guyana last year. This issue can no longer be ignored by the Government. Last Sunday’s newspapers carried almost a dozen stories in which allegations of corruption featured. Many of them were exaggerated, frivolous or speculative. But several of them are serious enough to compel the Government to take note. Corruption and allegations of corruption are not going to disappear if we do nothing else other than call for proof, claim that we now have regular reports from the Auditor General, or that we declare our assets to the Integrity Commission while the Opposition members do not. The time has come to take action.

Like many developing countries Guyana has not been able to contain corruption. Since 1992, spending, especially on infrastructure and procurement, has multiplied to levels that we could not have imagined. In any country, much less one with historically weak systems like Guyana, and a sharply divided and adversarial political system, it is not surprising that actual corruption and allegations of corruption are so rife. Admitting that corruption exists ought not an to be issue. It does exist and that cannot be denied. The challenge for the Government is to understand that the opposition is going to make the most politically of corruption and allegations of corruption and to recognize that the answer is to do something about it, not beat its breast about what it has done, which only exposes the inadequacy of its efforts.   

I know of enough verifiable instances of corruption to be satisfied that it is pervasive. Victims of corruption do not wish the circumstances or their names to be revealed because they fear victimization in their continuing lawful activities. As a result, while incidents of corruption are known to many, disclosure of the evidence is a major problem. This applies not only to Guyana. It is a worldwide phenomenon. This situation is known by the corrupt and enables them to feel safe and for their unlawful activities to proliferate and to ensnare more and more people. Unless something is done about it now, it will become a monster, if it not already is, that will engulf us all.

The Constitution Reform Commission made its report in 2000. It recommended a  Procurement Commission as a constitutional body with important functions to deal with corruption. The legislative changes were made in 2001. It is a shame and disgrace that ten years on the Procurement Commission has not been established. For years it has been held up by one of the most ridiculous excuses that can be imagined – the rejection by the Opposition of the Government’s proposal that they nominate some members and the Government nominates the others. The Opposition has demanded that all the members must be agreed. This kind of deliberately created gridlock aids only the corrupt in our society and both the Opposition and Government should be aware of this. We have elected them and we pay their salaries to do a better job. In this they have failed us. The Procurement Commission cannot take more than 72 hours to name, if the tripartite discussions are serious.

The President needs to articulate new, more advanced and comprehensive legislative and administrative programmes to be implemented in a timely manner which would strengthen transparency and accountability. The instruments to be established must be wide enough in scope to embrace all sectors of the society and all activities which are generally acknowledged to require accountability and transparency. They must give sufficient independent authority to deal with the corrupt. But we must not stop even there. Wider areas such as the payment of taxes by the self employed and accountability by political parties of donations received taking into account their concerns, and everything in between, must be areas that are eventually included in the scope of the effort.

Dealing with corruption requires expertise which may not exist in Guyana. But the UN, Carter Centre and many other impartial international bodies have extensive experience in advising, recommending and preparing measures to deal with transparency and accountability. The Government ought not to wait for more accusations from the Opposition or more allegations in the press, or for agreement in the tripartite talks, but should immediately initiate discussions with one or more of these international agencies to seek out assistance. Some of them have offices in Guyana and such discussions can be embarked upon in one week.

There is no doubt that corruption allegations are being used as a political weapon. But this happens not only in Guyana, but all over the world. If the Government continues to treat with the allegations only politically, or defensively, on a case by case basis, it will not win the argument, whatever the facts. To win such arguments, systems must be in place and be demonstrably seen to be functioning independently. If notwithstanding this, corruption or allegations persist, these would then become matters for the agencies established to deal with them or for the Police or both.

Corruption is a tax on development, according to the World Bank. It retards growth and development by a significant degree. In Jamaica it is estimated that the economy could have grown by 1.5 percent more had it not been for corruption.

During the last elections allegations of corruption by the Opposition was a major platform in its campaign. The results of the elections show that the Opposition made gains. There is little opinion polling in Guyana to determine what motivated the electorate and what were its concerns. Such as there were from Vishnu Bisram showed that corruption was a major concern. The Government should not ignore these events.

A crusade against corruption by the Government will introduce a new dimension to its agenda. It will demonstrate to the public that it means business. It can pay great political dividends because it will silence the Opposition and the press and will be a major mobilizing factor for the next elections.

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Comments

  • de castro compton  On 06/26/2012 at 10:43 am

    interesting prognosis…
    “corruption” is not unlike “perversion” a weakness in the “human” physce!
    The best way to tackle both is to “discourage” it !!
    How …by “exposing” it via the “media” …The MEDIA also has “corrupt” individuals but most “reporters” love a good story to tell!

    If they refuse to print it….maybe they should look in the mirror…
    A FREE PRESS is an essential part of our “information” process today
    and it certainly is the most effective way to “influence” society !
    Most honest “editors” will allow publication if it increases their readership..
    expose sells papers
    Just read “hello” magazine to see it in operation !

    As long as the “facts” and “evidence” is there “print it”….
    libel or no libel !

    my spin entirely
    kamptan

  • Cyril Balkaran  On 06/28/2012 at 8:10 am

    Mr Ramkarran has called for a Crusade against the so called massive Corruption in Government. He has also interpreted the results of the last General elections as an indictment against the Government and now the said issues of Corruption are being debated. Can I ask of Mr Ramkarran whether or not he is willing to lead the Crusade in Guyana against the very corruption he is aware of and bring some sanity to the situation as of now. The whole world is corrupt because the POLITICIANS have taken the world there. They cause the global financial crash in 2008 due to their intereferences with matters of the Financial EConomy and they are again doing ugly things in the Parliament of Guyana. Such is the darker side of the minds of those Political Animals that rule the world. We know who the Corrupt are in our society and why do we not Bell the CAT, Mr ramkarran you are the best person to lead this crusade. Go on a hunger strike 6:00 am to 6:00pm and call for the establishment for the approved Commission to oversee government’s purchases etc. It will be a politically good move and you will enhance your political future. Good luck.

  • de castro  On 06/28/2012 at 10:33 am

    cyril
    that was absolutely hilarious…

    “LEAD BY EXAMPLE” call to MR RAMKARRAN

    suspected response
    “sorry but have more important things to do”
    or
    “sorry dont wish to get involved”

    both negative !

    may I suggest a “soap box” in Stabroeck market square where anyone who wishes can take the stand !
    On my regular visits to LONDON I usually spend some time in “hyde park”
    to listen to the various speakers….some could be quite “hilarious” in their
    critique…I promise one day to do the “honours” and take the stand
    but would be so political and contraversal that some “lunatic” in the audiance may take a “shot” at me ! ha ha ! maybe in GUYANA but certainly not in LONDON….as a precaution I may have my “bodyguards” in the audiance !
    even more laughter !Hey if that is what happens ! que sera sera !
    When we are born our destiny is already written…
    When we die it is because of what we did along the way…..

    no more “philosophy” just “factual”…I hope to be arround for at least another 30 years …am 68 now and have a lot more to do !

    kamptan

  • ndtewarie  On 07/01/2012 at 12:25 pm

    Comrade Ramkarran was one of the architects of the Socialist PPP,it shows like the poppy ketch eh rabbit.Where was he when all the skulduggery was happening Now he’s out of clique, he’s bitter and want to tell it all, but no one is listening ,its too late comrade.

  • n. aUGUSTUS  On 07/01/2012 at 2:24 pm

    better late than never. Where is the eviddencde that a socialist PPP caused corruption and not greed by both PNC and PPP supportrs? If no one want to listen when will things change? Negativity is killing Guyana

  • de castro  On 07/03/2012 at 7:49 am

    n augustus
    your last 4 words says it all….but let me add and the planet…
    I am “positively” serious and usually use “negativity” in humour…
    GUYANA must change or die.
    when corruption becomes endemic (GUYANA rated) it is more difficult to change but it must !

    kamptan

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