The private sector and the local anti-corruption group today issued a joint statement voicing support for the US leadership and democracy project and urging the political parties to expedite anti-money laundering legislation among other things.
The joint press release follows:
THE PRIVATE SECTOR COMMISSION AND
TRANSPARENCY INSTITUTE GUYANA INC.
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
On Wednesday, 5 February, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. (TIGI) met as part of their collaboration efforts to discuss matters of mutual interest. The topics discussed were:
- The Democracy and Leadership Project;
- The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill;
- The Public Procurement Commission impasse;
- The Integrity Commission;
- 2014 budget and the implications of the Chief Justice’s ruling; and
- Allegations of Police brutality and involvement in criminal activities.
Following the discussions, meeting was unanimous in its agreement as follows:
Democracy and Leadership Project: We are in full support of the Project. In this regard, we urge the Government to do everything possible to resolve with the United States Embassy any outstanding issues to ensure the smooth execution of the Project. We believe that legislators, political parties and the general citizenry are likely to derive enormous benefits from the Project.
We also take the opportunity to express of steadfast support for early Local Government elections that are an integral part of local democracy. We are indeed disappointed that since 1994 no such elections were held. We call on our political leaders to set aside their differences and take urgent measures to ensure that Local Government elections are held as early as possible to allow residents to elect their leaders among the local communities and to hold them accountable.
Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill: We are extremely disappointed at the level of distrust among the political parties that has resulted so far in our inability to amend the existing legislation to bring it in line with international standards. Our disappointment is further compounded when one considers recent reports that Guyana and Mozambique are rated as the lowest in the world in terms of their legislations dealing with anti-money laundering and countering of terrorist financing.
As citizens, we cannot allow our country to be blacklisted for the failure to bring its legislation on the matter in line with international standards. The consequence of blacklisting and sanctions will almost certainly have a significant adverse impact on the activities of the business community and on the lives of ordinary citizens. We issue an urgent call to our political leaders: to set aside narrow political and partisan interests; to put the broader interest first i.e. the interest of the country; and to do whatever it takes to meet next week’s deadline for effecting the appropriate amendments to the existing legislation.
Public Procurement Commission impasse: We are also extremely disappointed that after 13 years, the Public Procurement Commission is not in place. We call on the Public Accounts Committee to: (a) expedite the selection of the five best candidates for appointment to the Commission from among the list of 20 persons who have been nominated; and (b) present their names to the National Assembly for ratification. It is our sincere hope that once these two actions are taken, the President will be in a position to make the appointment.
Integrity Commission: For several years now, the Integrity Commission has not been functioning due to the failure to appoint the Commissioners. We believe that a Commission that is staffed with independent, and technically and professionally competent officials, and provided with adequate resources, is the single most important institution in any fight against corruption. Guyana has signed on to two important international conventions – the Inter American Convention against Corruption; and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. We therefore have an obligation under these two convention to fight corruption wherever it exists, especially given our low standing on the Corruption Perceptions Index. We urge the Government to appoint the members of the Integrity Commission without further delay.
2014 budget and the implications of the Chief Justice’s ruling: We are aware of the differing views of the various stakeholders on the Chief Justice’s ruling on whether or not the National Assembly could reduce the Estimates of Expenditure as presented. Regardless of how we may feel about the ruling, we urge our legislators to respect the ruling unless a higher Court decides otherwise. The country cannot afford a third year of political bickering over sums to be allocated for undertaking the essential services of the Government and for infrastructure works. In this regard, we call on our political leaders to: display magnanimity to each other; sit together in the spirit of compromise; and decide what is best for the country. It is not too late to engage in such discussions. In this way, the Estimates will enjoy a smooth passage in the Assembly. If there is any way the PSC/TIGI can be of assistance, we will welcome the opportunity to do so.
Allegations of Police brutality and involvement in criminal activities: As civil society organizations, we are extremely disturbed at allegations of police brutality to our citizens and involvement in criminal activities. While we acknowledge that the majority of officers carry out their duties diligently and in a professional way, there is a serious deficit in public confidence in the Police Force precipitated by the actions of undesirable elements in the Force. For too long these rogue elements have been allowed to operate with impunity. We call on the Minister of Home Affairs and the Commissioner of Police to do whatever it takes to lift the standards of performance of the Police Force so that citizens can feel comfortable in the belief that the Force is truly embracing its motto of service and protection to the citizens of this country.
– End of release –