– says Govt should use audits to set an example
By Alexis Rodney
Political commentator Dr David Hinds has said while he agreed with President David Granger that it might be difficult to persecute every person found culpable in the reports of the recently concluded State Audits,
Government should go after some instances of corruption to send a very stern message.
Speaking with Guyana Times in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, Hinds, an executive of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), one of the partners in the coalition Government, said there have to be some cases of “blatant corruption”, carried out by some former Government officials, and the new Administration should use some of these instances to hint that it was totally against corruption.
“Having gotten the results of the audits, I agree with the President that you should not jump at everything, because not every malpractice is corruption, but I think that from the best of my knowledge, there are some instances of blatant corruption. I think the President has to go after the instances of blatant corruption,” Hinds told Guyana Times.
He said it would be a good move; however, before Government “jumps before the courts”, the audits should be carefully studied. “You have to get a set of fresh eyes and legal people to look at it. But I refuse to believe [based on] what I have read in the newspapers that there are not two or three or four instances of blatant corruption that should be brought before the courts.”
According to Hinds, should Government fail in this regard, it will send a message to those from the previous Administration who remain, to continue down this path, thus, driving a continuous process of undetectable corruption.
“We live in the type of society, if you do not do it, there are still others who are in office from the old regime, because the top officers may have gone, but the people at the second, and third level of Government are still there and so, if they can see that these things can be uncovered and people can get away, then that give them the incentive to continue.”
Hinds said for him, it is not about punishing the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and their officials, it is simply putting a brake on blatant corruption and setting an example for future Governments.
President Granger late last week said that while Government has received the reports of the so far completed State Audits, it may find it challenging to persecute persons who have been found culpable.
He insisted that the main objective behind audits and the reports was to ensure that no improper or corrupt practices recur. He said too that he was not willing to use the audits and the reports as tools for “witch hunting”.
The President had previously said the audits were being used as “guides for corrective action to ensure that there is no reoccurrence”.
Hinds expressed the view that the State Audits were an absolute necessity, since there had been an “abuse of State resources throughout our post-independence”.
“It did not start with the previous PPP, it started before. But I think it escalated under the PPP and we have to put a stop to that, because, if it escalated under the PPP, the logic is that if nothing is done, it will continue with this audit. So I think the audit was very important.”
Meanwhile, Hinds, speaking on Government’s decision to use independent auditors, as against officials of the State Audit Department, said he totally supported the use of independent officials.
“I think if you were to use State Auditors to audit the State, whether it was the past or present Government, it is the same Government. I don’t think that the State should be asking State Auditors to audit it. So I do agree with the move to have an independent audit,” he explained.
Hinds said it was understandable that persons have had some qualms about the independent auditors; however, he was quite sure that an excellent job was done.
“I know some people have questioned whether the auditors themselves were independent as many of the auditors, some of them were associated with the Opposition. That is the difficulty with politics in Guyana. But professionals need to be given a chance to do their professional work…To the best of my knowledge, I think they have done a professional job.”
He continued there were always going to be subjectivity and one has to make allowances for that. “I still do think that the independent auditors would give more nuances and a more dispassionate review of the audits as against the State Auditors.”
Hinds said in all of this, it would be a good thing if Government could be a little clearer about what was being done about official corruption. He said while the audits were fine, Government still needed to be clear about where the lines should be drawn.
“There is not really a clear line drawn. There are still vestiges of the old order still in place that should not be there,” Hinds told Guyana Times.