Private enterprise and the public more corrupt than Government – President Granger
President David Granger, in an effort to exculpate his Government, has said that corruption in Guyana was more rampant outside of Government and as such, the usual anti-corruption critics of his Government should focus more on the Private Sector and non-State organisations, where he believed the scourge was raging.
He said the real contributors to corruption were those who committed crimes of tax evasion, smuggling, narcotics trafficking, trafficking in persons and money laundering, none of which really emanate from within Government, but rather, benefit the Private Sector, offshore banks and tax havens.
“It is my view that corruption in Guyana is most widespread outside of Government,” the President declared on Saturday evening while addressing the launch of former Auditor General Anand Goolsarran’s book “Governance, Transparency and Accountability.”
He cautioned Guyanese against believing that corruption was confined to law enforcement agents and public servants, adding that while persons must remain vigilant against the abuse of power by the Government, they must also look at “the abuse of trust by the Private Sector”.
Granger said that his Government remained committed to eradicating corruption, but stressed the need for the Private Sector and other non-State players to help fight the scourge.
“We also need the support of the Private Sector to remove corruption in the Private Sector among businessmen, among smugglers, traffickers, gun-runners, money launderers so maybe criticising the Government does not ensure the absence of corruption,” Granger said.
He added that often critics overlook the real culprits in corruption, such as gold and diamond smugglers, conspirators of importers, exporters of illegal drugs, builders of fuel smuggling vessels, back-trackers and those who dodge National Insurance Scheme and Income Tax payments.
The President believes that the practice of good governance, transparency and accountability are more than the antidote for corruption in Government.
“They are also a remedy for ridding the disease of corruption in the Private Sector, in professional organisations, in civil society and also in international organisations,” he stated.
The Guyanese leader said that while institutions such as the Public Procurement Commission, Integrity Commission and the Public Service Commission would help in the fight against corruption, they would also protect the country from being relegated to a rogue state.
Granger said he was interested in good governance, accountability and transparency, effective government policy, a regulatory framework, political stability and a representative democracy.
He said corruption weakened enforcement of the law, democratic values, accountability, transparency, public trust in governance and institutions of government.
Despite these assertions by the Head of State, his one-year-old Government has already had its fair share of corruption allegations levelled against it, including from the United States Department of State.
In April 2016, the US Department of State said that corruption continued to be among the leading human rights problems facing Guyana.
“There remained a widespread public perception of corruption involving officials at all levels, including the Police and the judiciary,” the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015, released by the Department, said.
It noted, however, that the Government responded to the report, but did not elaborate.
The report also stated that while the law required public officials to declare their assets to the Integrity Commission, the Commission has not been constituted.
It added that the law set out both criminal and administrative sanctions for nondisclosure to the Commission by public officials, but, no such publication or convictions occurred during the year.
Closer to home, local anti-corruption body, Transparency Institute (Guyana) Inc (TIGI) went on public record as criticising the Administration, citing Junior Minister of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes for conflict of interest.
Broomes was accused of conflict of interest because of her significant mining interests, while having ministerial oversight of the mining sector.
She has since denied any wrongdoing.