Guyana: Patience needed regarding Corruption in previous Government – By Dr. David Hinds

Guyana: Patience needed on the issue of Corruption in previous Government

Dr. David Hinds

Dr. David Hinds

By Dr. David Hinds

Many supporters of Guyana’s governing coalition have been calling on the government to move more quickly against alleged instances of corruption in the previous government. Some are also dismayed that many operatives of the PPP still hold top positions in the government. This is understandable. The instances of corruption, which have thus far been made public by the government has confirmed in the minds of many that there is more in the mortar.

The logic of party politics invariably takes us to this place. The coalition made rooting out and prosecuting corruption a centerpiece of its campaign platform.  Many of their supporters have individually and collectively felt the wrath of the PPP when in government. When one combines the two, the government has to appear to be aggressively going after those suspected of corruption. 

But one has to make a distinction between proper investigation of corruption and witch-hunting. The government has to make sure that it is doing proper investigation before prosecuting people. I know people are impatient, but even instances of corruption that are obvious need to be carefully documented before prosecution.  Accumulating the evidence needed to prosecute those suspected of misappropriation of government assets takes time.

We have to allow the auditors to do their work thoroughly. The Asset-Recovery unit also has to make sure that it is engaged in investigation and not witch-hunting. Government is a very complex set of institutions. Because there are several layers of and avenues running through the government, it takes some time to catch and follow the trail of corruption.

Many persons have asked me to evaluate the government. A few have pointed to the fact that many items in the 100-day plan have not been implemented. Frankly, I think the government is doing a good job overall. It is not easy coming into government after 23 years. The government has to confront a shattered economy, the Venezuela threat and a rampant and unrepentant opposition. That’s a fair bit to handle.

The new government invariably encountered more problems than it anticipated. Some may say they should have known this. But although they are related, there is some difference between campaigning to get into government and actually governing. The government, for example, has to deal with the partisan bureaucracy installed by the previous government. The operatives may be political appointees but they know the system. If you throw all of them out immediately without proper replacements you may end up undermining your own administration.

In a sense these first few months are really a period of familiarisation and learning. The vast majority of the Ministers are new to government. Some of them are new to politics. I suppose one can criticise the leadership for not choosing a more experienced team. But given what they have and given the fact that it is a coalition they have done a good job at advancing the process. They have not met some of the 100 day deadlines but what is important is that they have shown intent.

These 100 day deadlines are really election gimmicks. To do the things that they promised to do in 100 days assumes a combination of the following factors–that there was normalcy in the system they were taking over, that the outgoing government would cooperate and that there were the necessary expertise at their disposal. This is not the case. But we now have a budget. That in itself is an achievement of sorts because a proper budget assumes a thorough grasp of the macro economic situation. I think with the passage of the budget we would see faster progress.

The one criticism I have of the government is the relatively low level of consultation with stakeholders outside of formal government. This I know slows down the process, but it is a vital aspect of democratic and good governance. You simply cannot arrive at some crucial decisions based on the views of just 15 people, however competent or well-meaning they are. The naming of the members to government boards was a victim of this lack of consultation. So too was the swift ending of the Walter Rodney Commission. I also believe that Ministers, with a few exceptions, have not been accessible to the public.  I am talking here about outreaches to the communities.

Dr. David Hinds, a political activist and commentator, is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies at Arizona State University. More of his writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com. Send comments to dhinds6106@aol.com

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Comments

  • De castro  On September 5, 2015 at 1:13 am

    Interesting and sensible approach to Guyana s dilemma.
    Devil you do devil you don’t.
    Yes Rome wasnt built in a day.

    There will be many bridges to cross.

    However “intent” is not enough “action” is also necessary.

    In politics as in business you must be in control of its administration.
    When there is change in government the “administration” usually remains.
    The sooner these are “removed” the better.
    The easiest way to achieve this is by appointing “understudy” successors
    to the senior posts in the administration. What is more important is the
    the integrity of the “understudy” appointments. This reduces the risk of
    being accused of a witch hunt.

    Just an idea on how to reduce/remove corruption in government/business.

    Same ruling applies to appointment of ministers of government.

    The integrity of that government remains intact.

    Way forward.

    An interesting and honest analysis by our learned friend.

    Kamtan

  • albert  On September 5, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Anyone who has had some experience in public administration know it would be an extremely difficult job to clean up the mess Jagdeo/Ramoutar has created. Granger and his team probably did not anticipate the extent of the challenge. He might spend his entire term trying to clean up the corruption. ……..He might be in for some more surprises when Jagdeo appointed Judges/Magistrates begin dismissing charges against the corrupt defendants.

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