General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Clement Rohee says that former president Bharrat Jagdeo amassed his fortune through vigilant saving.
Speaking at the party’s weekly press conference yesterday, Rohee said that he was not in a position to wallow in an area of speculation when it came to the perceptions of corruption in the public service presently and in relation to those who served previously.
He said that in relation to Jagdeo “he remained a bachelor, he was living with his parents, obviously he was saving”. His answer came after reporters questioned if the former president’s current financial status was not concerning. Rohee said that if anyone was aware of any evidence of wrongdoing they had the obligation to bring forth the evidence.
Rohee got heated when he said “if something wasn’t right it would have already been discovered…and exposed”. The general secretary also said that “I will never agree Jagdeo stole money”. He added the former president’s current home was not built through stolen and corrupt proceeds.
Rohee was questioned about the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment’s, Robert Persaud’s, wealth growth also. He continued that if there was evidence to support that there was rampant corruption in the public service then four questions had to be answered, “where they thief, who they thief from, how much they thief and what they do with the theiving money.”
He told the Freedom House press conference that corruption was not rampant in the public service and called for Opposition Leader David Granger to apologize for remarks to the contrary.
Rohee however later admitted that the creation of the ‘I Paid a Bribe’ website was a Home Affairs Ministry initiative to help curb the “consistent and persistent complaints” by citizens against the police force and various other public service agencies.
Rohee added that “the Ministry of Home Affairs is concerned like everyone else is concerned”. He said that while he could not answer how many complaints have been received since the website was established it is a successful project.
The Minister did reveal that the ministry does not require that agencies report any investigations or prosecutions that stemmed from the website. It is unclear then how effectively the success of the website can be measured. Rohee said that once the complaint is received the relevant agency is notified and they would be charged with dealing with the complaint. There is no review process for the system nor did Rohee foresee the need for one.
Rohee denied that there was a “link between the salaries paid to public servants and the standard of professionalism that currently exists in the public service”.
“The salaries of public servants at the minimum level have seen consistent increases reaching today $40, 000,” Rohee said. Analysts have said this is nowhere near a living wage and it should be around $75,000. “To suggest that our public servants are prone to facilitate corrupt practices in the exercise of their duties is tantamount to an attack on their integrity and professionalism”, Rohee thundered.