Double standards on corruption

Dear Editor,
In the last decade of the PPP’s Administration, there was a heightened drive for transparency, accountability, good governance and adherence to the rule of law in Guyana. The Government and those deemed connected to the administration were constantly being skewered in the news and visas of the former were being revoked as a matter of routine. Media houses exhibited great power and the diplomatic community was very assertive in its stance against corruption.
The charge in the local media was led by numerous accountabilities, governance and constitutional experts. The Government faced accusations left, right and centre about corruption, financial mismanagement – particularly as it concerned the consolidated fund, conflict of interest and nepotism. Even those in the capitalist private sector were beginning to feel guilty about making profits.
Around the same time, the PNC had managed to re-invent itself despite its own history of corruption and election rigging. Soon after the coalition got into office, it immediately launched over 50 forensic audits, CoIs and enquiries costing hundreds of millions.
Several of those audits were awarded, without tender no less, to auditors who had been staunch PPP critics. Notwithstanding, nothing of substance came from the audits which means the PPP was effectively thrown out of office on a fake trumped upcharge.
In a similar vein to the sole sourcing of the auditors, the APNU/AFC coalition very early on recruited and thereby neutralised many of the former advocates of good governance. These folks are now busy promoting and defending corruption, bad governance, nepotism, a blatant conflict of interest and violation of the Constitution.
Others have gone silent, perhaps ashamed of what they have birthed. The result is a media today which has lost its zest for transparency and accountability giving meaning to the old adage, “monkey know which limb to jump pon.” But while the actions of the former transparency advocates can be explained by the fact that many are really propagandists, the withdrawal of the diplomatic community from the corruption issue raises a major question.
There is no doubt that corruption has risen to astronomical levels since this Government has risen to power. For example, there is the D’Urban Park project, the never-ending airport and road projects – where more is spent for less— pharm agate scandals, land and concessions giveaways to politicians and friends, deals which were made while the Government under caretaker status, the scandalous 99 year parking meter contract, GECOM radios deal, the fritter on overpriced drones – announced only two days ago and the most egregious of them all: the incomparable US billions oil giveaway for a measly 2% and the secret stash/ pittance of a bonus.
On top of all that, the Government continues to occupy office illegally one year after it was easily defeated in a No-Confidence Motion. Then, there is GECOM, a study in deception, seemingly doing all it can to facilitate this caretaker Government remaining in office indefinitely by delaying and preventing free and fair elections. Suddenly, it is clear that there is one standard for the PPP and another for APNU/AFC. And that accusation could be levelled against the diplomatic community as well. Why is the diplomatic community which was so assertive against corruption and keen on rule of law so quiet in the face of all these violations? The answer to that question is perhaps most troubling. It perhaps also explains the arrogance and disdain of this caretaker Government and GECOM for the Guyanese people.

Ravi Ram