Govt building capacity to fight corruption – Teixeira

…urges civil society, others to get on board

Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Minister Gail Teixeira, whose Ministry is spearheading an anti-corruption workshop with support from the United Nations (UN), said the Government is intent on building institutional capacity for fighting corruption.
A three-day workshop, supported by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, commenced on Monday at the Police Training Centre. In her opening remarks, Minister Teixeira spoke of the need for Guyana to make active efforts to strengthen its institutions and honour its treaty obligations. She also called for everyone to be on board in the fight against corruption.
“We need to build institutional capacity in our country, that this becomes part of the fabric of what we do in Government. That the preparation of the reports requires the development of capacity in our institutions.”
“The preparation must be one where the partners and agencies in the country, civil society, begin to see this as an important function they have to play. Instead of making it a political football.”

(From left to right) UNODC Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer Jason Reichelt; UN Resident Coordinator (ag), Dr Gillian Smith; Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, MP

In addition, Teixeira emphasised the importance of Guyana building institutional capacity to eliminate instances of bribery, underhand deals, fraud, and exploitation in the public sector. This is also important for Guyana to be able to punch above its weight at anti-corruption conferences.
“We need as a country, as a small country in terms of population and skill space, to be able to work in an organised, structured manner and to be able to develop the capacity when each of the agencies are involved, as well as the national level. And that’s what this workshop is about. And we went to the UNODC and asked them, could they assist us,” the Minister said.

Global fight
Meanwhile, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer at the UNODC, Jason Reichelt described the fight against corruption as a global one. He noted, however, that eliminating corruption has become even more critical and urgent now during the pandemic.
“In the time of the pandemic and the time of COVID-19, we know that corruption has had particularly challenging effects on governments’ ability to respond to the crisis, to respond to the pandemic through corruption in public procurement and the acquisition of necessary medical supplies and equipment and the distribution and the manufacturing of vaccines and treatments for recovery,” Reichelt noted.
The workshop is also aimed at providing a high-level review of the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism, focusing particularly on the procedures and various steps in a review, along with an in-depth article-by-article discussion on the chapters under review.
This will allow experts and members of the National Coordinating Committee to engage in discussions to exchange information and clarify key concepts to get an understanding of information that might be relevant for the review of each article.
The agencies participating in the three-day workshop include the Public Service Commission, Police Service Commission; the Ombudsman; Integrity Commission; Special Organised Crime Unit; Public Procurement Commission; departments under the Guyana Police Force; Office of the Auditor General; Financial Intelligence Unit; Judicial Service Commission; Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; the Ministry of Legal Affairs; the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board; the Bankers’ Association of Guyana, as well as the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.
Over the next three days, the participants will familiarise themselves and receive knowledge on the codes of the UN Convention; public procurement and management of public finances, public reporting and participation of society preventative anti-corruption policies and practices; measures relating to the Judiciary and prosecution services, among other key areas. (G3)