Facing the corruption crisis

To solve a critical problem, one has to first face up to it.

This nation now faces a critical problem in the corruption crisis. And the Government refuses to see its ugly effects, denies its pervasive existence, and launches nasty verbal attacks on anyone who speaks of it as a monstrous crisis.

Every Guyanese everywhere talks about the critical nature of the corruption crisis in this country.

From traffic policing to law enforcement against the narcotic industry, the justice system ranks low on the credibility index of the average citizen.

Guyanese talk of the courts and the justice system with derision, knowing of the corruption in the system. Court jackets disappear. Mysterious delays in cases see them die silently with no resolution.

Those who could afford it easily pay their way through our court system.

A popular topic for discussion among Guyanese, in the rum-shops, in homes, among friends, even overseas, revolves around bribery paid to traffic cops.

Stories and anecdotes abound across this country of cop bribery.

In Georgetown, one such story tells of a police Inspector who demands from his officers manning traffic on the streets that a certain quota must be met every day. According to this story, cop bribery is organized and involves a bribery ring within the force.

Stories abound of bribery to court staff, Justice officers and high ranking members of the law enforcement establishment.

Talk abounds across the business landscape of bribery to State officials and Government employees, for all sorts of services to the public. Business owners talk quite openly to their friends of bribes to State officials for favours.

Corruption in this country has become a way of life, a natural lifestyle. The private sector accepts this as status quo, and business owners bribe their way to wealth with a shrug of the shoulder.

The average Guyanese on the street talks of the fabulous wealth Government officials accumulate in just a couple years in State office, knowing that such sudden riches could not come legally in this country.

People talk of the Private Sector-Government collusion in this culture of corruption. People talk. They know. Out on the street the Guyanese citizen looks on helpless and unable to voice an opinion, because the State media shut out the citizen, favouring instead haughty officialdom.

But the professional private media talk of the corruption. Citizens concerned and alarmed at the social chaos resulting from this ingrained culture of corruption talk of it, and call for strong action to curb it. However, Government lashes back at those as “opposition critics” – an absolute brain-dead reaction.

In private conversation, few persons in the Government, in Parliament, or the Private Sector would deny the crisis we face as a nation because of the strangling tentacles of widespread corruption.

Transparency International Guyana Institute must be lauded and applauded for its stringent crusade to end corruption in this country. Its recent actions, including highlighting the shamefully low ranking of this country on the global transparency index, provoked anger and severe wrath from State officials. Government lambasted the private media and Transparency International for this report, saying that Guyana does not suffer from major corruption.

Of course, the average citizen laughs in scorn at such Government statements.

One private sector leader who made public statements against the Transparency report, and claimed that it is only “perception”, attracted the scorn of the citizen, who knows how entangled this whole society is in the corruption trap.

The obvious offshoot of such entrenched national corruption is, of course, organized crime. And we see the narcotic industry, alien smuggling, mysterious overnight wealth, international money laundering and illegal mining and even gold smuggling making the biggest headlines in recent days.

Corruption leads to the high murder rate in this country, with executions and violent killings now a norm.

For Government to deny that corruption is a critical problem is downright dishonest and a shocking refusal to face the most serious crisis affecting this society.

Government’s verbal assault on Transparency International and its new report leaves citizens feeling isolated and ungoverned. Government refuses to face the most crushing problem that bombards citizens. How could the Government be trusted? Government lacks credibility.

The Guyanese citizen laughs at its statements of denial and attacks on those who insist on moral, ethical public behaviour.

Yet, Government officials remain silent about the astonishing accounting malpractices that show up year after year in the Auditor General’s report.

For the past 40 years, this country has lost millions of US dollars because of poor accounting. The citizens lose. Guyanese suffer from such wasteful assaults on the public treasury. Whether the Treasury pulls in money from taxpayers or from international loans, the citizen faces the burden of paying for every dollar spent in this country.

For every State-enriched contractor who banks his US$ million in the US or Canada, the Guyanese citizens have to work hard to bear the burden of our National Budget.

Corruption is rampant in this country. Many wealthy people today became fabulously wealthy with smuggled goods through the ports of Georgetown, bribing Customs officials with blatant bragging in bars and rum-shops.

We cannot develop as a society if we cannot face the crisis of corruption robbing Guyanese of a decent living standard.

Those corrupt Private Sector leaders and Government officials who indulge in this unholy alliance, to push aside the citizen in that greedy grab for personal riches, lack humane ethics and a sense of moral decency.

We suffer as a society because these people lead us. Our future as a nation lies in the hands of these leaders, who lack good conscience and that sense of community care that comes with public office.

Like the Indian writer, Rahul Bhattacharya, recognized when he spent a year observing our society to write a book, they lord who it over us are but scoundrels of the worst order.

They refuse to face the critical problem of the corruption crisis stifling us, as they build themselves wealthy arks to escape the social destruction they wrought in the wake of their rotten refusal to be leaders of ethics and good conscience.


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