Gov’t dismisses corruption rating

The government and the ruling party yesterday rebuffed Guyana’s poor rating in the Transparency International (TI) corruption perception index, saying there is no empirical data to support the findings.

“It is expected, I assume, that they are fair but you must remember that Transparency International is a non-empirical survey not empirical and that is the issue,” said Presidential Advisor on Governance Gail Teixeira at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing yesterday on Guyana’s rating.

With a score of 28 out of 100 points, Guyana ranks 133 out of 176 countries surveyed for the 2012 CPI, worse than every other country in the Caribbean except for Haiti.

The CPI measures perceived levels of public sector corruption, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean) and any score below 50 indicates a serious problem. Two-thirds of the countries surveyed scored below 50.

Gail Teixeira

Teixeira questioned the accuracy of TI’s measurements. “All the universities, professors and people who study these issues do no put much credence on this except the media… because it’s the easiest thing to go through and just pull numbers out and throw them into the newspapers,” she added.

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), using the social media site Facebook, raised similar concerns and heavily criticized the media’s coverage of the report, saying that it was negatively skewed .“The media coverage of the Corruption Perception Index published by the Guyana arm of Transparency International lacks any form of analysis. The fact that the word “Perception” is used in the title of the index should at the very least allow for a caveat to be placed,” it said.

The PPP’s arm- the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) – also took a swipe at the principal players of the Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc. particularly its Vice President, former Auditor General Anand Goolsarran.

“Most importantly, that prejudices, biases, and flaws in the commentary of the TIGI are best understood when one examines who the principal officers andinfluential players in the TIGI are,” the PYO stated. The youth arm of the ruling party questioned Goolsarran’s commitment to transparency, saying that it was under his watch during the Peoples National Congress administration that Auditor General reports had not been produced prior to 1992. The PYO also accused him of having close ties with the Alliance For Change’s Khemraj Ramjattan.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Anil Nandlall told Stabroek News that  while he dismisses the report as poppycock, given that there was no stated  methodology as to how the organization ended up at its findings,  it was an insult and disrespectful  to the country and Guyanese . He added that he was not surprised at the rating, since the conclusiveness on the report did not reflect empirical data and used perception indices that are heavily subjective.

“We first have to appreciate that organisations like TI have to sustain their existence by making pronouncement of the type which they have made. The raison d’être of their existence depends upon their ability to perpetuate and disseminate that type of information or they would have no relevance in society,” he said.

Nandlall lambasted TI on grounds that the organisation failed to disclose the empirical data or sources that they examined to arrive at those conclusions, resulting in no one being able to critically examine the veracity of their conclusions. “They fail to say where this corruption they speak about exists be it at the government, public or private sector. They did not disclose who they spoke to, which institutions organizations or which documents they consulted. They did not examine the institutional mechanism, which are in place constitutionally, legislatively or departmentally. Having regard to the absence of such vital information, how can anyone take such findings seriously?” he added.

The Attorney General conceded that the allegations are damaging to the government and people of Guyana and called on TI to reveal its methodology and findings. “Therefore those who embark upon an agenda to make that indictment have a duty to the people of this country to make a full and frank disclosure of the entirety of the process which resulted in those findings,” he said.

Heaping scorn on TI, Nandlall accused the organisation of “gross dereliction” of duty and engaging in “gross disrespect” by arriving at baseless disclosures.

“These persons in their apparent solitude… publish conclusions that are damning to this entire nation. As a country we are entitled to be treated better and therefore we must term that condemnatory report as an expression of gross disrespect” the Attorney General said.

The Guyana government has consistently criticised TI’s ranking of Guyana. The Chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago chapter of TI, Deryck Murray recently advised the Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc. that it would always be considered anti-government. However, the retort by the Transparency Institute of Trinidad and Tobago has been “we are anti-what-governments do when they get into office.”

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