GUYANA: The 2021 Report – Transparency Corruption Perceptions Index – Commentary

By January 28, 2022

Recently, he Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index Report of 2021 was released. READ THE FULL REPORT HERE:

It covers the first full year of the PPP/C’s current term in office, although the Guyana results are not that much different from the previous year. In the 2020 Index Guyana scored 41 points and was recorded as having moved up 13 places since 2012. This year’s report revealed a score of 39 for this country, a decline of two points, and a rank of 87 in the listings, representing a downward move of two places.

Transparency International surveys 180 countries across the globe, and scores them on the basis of the perceived level of public corruption on a scale of 0-100, where 0 signifies very corrupt and 100 very clean. Ranking, on the other hand, is affected by the scores obtained by other countries in the Index, or if there has been a variation in the total number of countries included.  As we reported, therefore, the score is more important than the ranking.     

Despite Guyana’s slight decline, it is still among the twenty-five countries which have made notable improvements in the last ten years.  For the rest, 86 per cent of the nations made little to no progress over the same period, even those at the top of the index. The highest scoring  countries were Denmark, Finland and New Zealand, all of which garnered an 88 point score, while at the bottom were Somalia, Syria and South Sudan.

For comparison purposes what is important to us is what is happening on our continental turf, and more particularly our regional turf. Where the Americas as a whole are concerned the report said that this was the third consecutive year they had “ground to a halt in the fight against corruption”, the average score being a little above ours at 43. Three of the strongest democracies, namely the US and Chile at 67, and Canada at 74 had showed a decline and only Uruguay of the top performers had remained stable. No one would be surprised to learn that Venezuela, with a score of 14, Haiti with 20 and Nicaragua with 22 were the lowest in the rankings. Where significant improvements were concerned, only Guyana and Paraguay were deemed worthy of mention.

Scores for our regional neighbours

As for our neighbours in the region, Suriname along with Colombia scored the same points as we did and consequently had the identical ranking, while Brazil was behind us with a score of 38 and a ranking of 96.  That should come as no surprise.  The report said that the Brazilian government, along with those of Venezuela, El Salvador and Guatemala had employed “intimidation, defamation, fake news and direct attacks against civil society organisations and activists.”

As for the Caribbean region, not unexpectedly Barbados remained the highest ranked country with a score of 65 and a ranking of 29. Then comes The Bahamas at 64 with a ranking of 30. Both these nations were up a point from last year. St Vincent and the Grenadines stayed stable at 59 and was ranked 36, with Dominica scoring the same as last year with 55, but obtaining a different ranking of 45. Trinidad increased its score by one to 41 and now has a placement of 82. St Lucia while scoring 56, the same as last year and a placement of 42, which is relatively good in terms of the rest of the region, has nevertheless seen a 15 point decline since 2014. The island receives very little coverage here, so what the issues are which account for this decline have not been given much exposure beyond its frontiers.

The report noted that Jamaica had been struggling for several years, although some progress had been made. In particular there was the establishment of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, although the caveat was added that this had to be considered alongside significant resistance to reforms by many politicians. This will be a situation not unfamiliar to Guyanese locally.

The nexus between the assault on human rights and democracy and the stagnation of anti-corruption efforts across the world was alluded to by the report.  “This is no coincidence,” it said; “Our latest analysis shows that protecting human rights is crucial in the fight against corruption: countries with well-protected civil liberties generally score higher on the [Index], while countries who violate civil liberties tend to score lower.” This too will be a connection requiring no elaboration for those working in the field of human and civil rights.

The report also exhorted governments to take “decisive action to strengthen the transparency, integrity and independence of their justice systems.” Most people concerned about freedom and accountability in our local political jurisdiction do not need to be convinced about the importance of this, but the current administration has displayed no particular diligence about achieving it. Various commissions, including the Judicial Service Commission have not been set up and no substantive appointments have been made to the key posts of Chancellor and Chief Justice. The Constitution requires that the Opposi-tion Leader be consulted, but for many months President Irfaan Ali refused to speak to APNU, and at present he has the excuse that that party is in total confusion, and since Mr Harmon has now resigned his post there is no Leader of the Opposition.

Then there is the Integrity Commission, which has still not materialised, although it does look as if the Procurement Commission is on the cusp of resurrection. Some watchdogs exist, but have been emasculated such as the Environmental Protection Agency, which decided, among other things, that no Impact Assessment was necessary for the building of the Demerara Harbour Bridge. Government control of that institution came about by the simple expedient of replacing its well-qualified head.

Recent legislation such as the Natural Resource Fund Act which reflects the opposite of transparency and accountability gives no suggestion that the administration is serious about addressing corruption, largely because it has no intention of relinquishing control of every facet of social and economic activity. Even if it wants to address corruption, once it is averse to fully autonomous institutions and closes avenues for genuine consultation and dismisses out of hand civil society groups, it cannot succeed. As it is a host of questions swirl around oil company contracts, the gas to shore project and a number of other mysterious agreements, contracts and projects. But the government does not want to listen to ‘critics’.

It is true that the Auditor General diligently produces his reports which have uncovered all manner of corrupt practices, but the problem is action is usually not taken following the disclosures. And then of course everything is undermined by our anomalous political arrangements which no party has evinced any great enthusiasm to change. We do not have a rational democracy, and at the moment we don’t even have a functioning opposition whose job it is under normal circumstances to hold the government accountable.

The Corruption Perceptions Index Report also said governments should protect whistle-blowers – not much evidence of that here – and include the perspectives of women and vulnerable groups in their anti-corruption strategies. It could be observed again that our administration doesn’t like including any outside groups, women, vulnerable or otherwise in their strategies, no matter of what kind. Various civil society groups which have advanced new ideas or criticisms have been subject to obloquy from the government.

Now that we have become an oil economy where the temptations for malfeasance of one kind or another will multiply, and we have a government in office which is reluctant to move in the direction of a true open society with its face set against corruption, one wonders what our scores on future Indexes will be.
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  • brandli62  On 01/31/2022 at 8:01 am

    In addition to what was said above here some facts taken from Kaieteur News article:

    “During the years of the APNU+AFC [coalition government] that score steadily improved to 41. However, in the latest ranking, which was published last week Tuesday by Transparency International, a global coalition against corruption, Guyana’s performance dropped from 41 in 2020 to 39 in 2021. The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is the most widely used corruption ranking in the World, according to the organisation’s website, which also explains that the data recorded in each country, measures how corrupt that country’s public sector is perceived. A country’s score is measured on a scale of 0-100, where 0 means highly corrupt and 100 means very clean. When the Coalition Party assumed office in 2015, Guyana’s score stood at 29. The following year, it progressed to 34, and in 2017, it jumped to 38. In 2018, Guyana dropped a point but in 2019, it again increased to 40 and finally, 41 in 2020.”

    In other words, corruption in the country’s public sector has climbed, after a full year under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government. That’s truly bad news. I hope that Ali administration is listening.

    • theonly  On 02/03/2022 at 3:38 pm

      Nonsense as usual (drill and pump baby)

  • Emily  On 02/06/2022 at 11:49 am

    You know a country is a third rate Banana Republic when it discovers more than 10 billion barrels of oil, yet Guyanese have to beg their relatives abroad for money to buy cooking gas and put gas in their thirty year old second hand Japanese death trap they call a car or bus.

    Venezuela has over 350 billion barrels of oil, yet many fled to Miami after eating dog carcasses in their home country for survival.

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