We begin by conceding that we may well have misunderstood the process and procedures set out by President Bharrat Jagdeo several months ago for investigating the Customs/Fidelity fraud inasmuch as we understood the President to have said that that investigation would extend beyond the occurrence itself and into other areas of Customs operations and that it would embrace, among other things, an investigation into the private bank accounts of functionaries within the Guyana Revenue Authority.
It now appears that the latter pursuit, that is, the probe of private finances, will be the subject of a separate investigation and, according to the Auditor General, that investigation could be even more protracted than the recently completed one into the actual Customs/Fidelity matter.
The first probe lasted well over six months and while we can hardly pretend to be experts in these matters we believe that the probe lasted far longer than was necessary; and even after we had learnt that the enquiry had been completed there occurred a number of irritating dalliances over whether it had in fact been “fully completed,” whether the report had as yet arrived on the President’s desk and what findings and recommendations were contained therein.
And even allowing for the fact that the report still has to be subjected to legal scrutiny associated with the recommendations, no harm, surely, would have been done by providing a public statement summarizing exactly the kind of information which, through sheer persistence, sections of the media have managed to secure. One makes this argument particularly in the context of the definitive promises made to the nation by the President that in this particular instance the inquiry will go all the way and that the truth, whomsoever it may implicate, will win out.
If it is fair to say that some progress has been made in moving the process along since the fraud revelation was made several months ago, there remains an understandable public concern that except this matter is expedited with a greater measure of alacrity it might slip from the national radar. That would only lead to the further deepening of an already existing mountain of conviction that people can do anything and get away with it – depending on who those people are. The other issue of course has to do with the continually darkening cloud of suspicion that will inevitably continue to hang over the country’s largest and most important revenue collecting agency. After all, we can hardly expect that against the backdrop of what is, for the most part, a state of almost complete ignorance about the outcome of a multi-million fraud probe involving the institution that collects our tax dollars, the public can still be expected to repose any real confidence in the ability of that institution to administer such a critical function of the state. Surely, we cannot forever be expected simply to accept these things and move on!
At one point we had been told that the recently completed enquiry might require the recruitment of overseas specialists. It transpires, as far as we know, that that turned out not to be the case. As far as the probe of private accounts is concerned we are told, once again the specialists may have to be imported. That, in our view – and we sincerely hope that we are proven wrong – portends yet another long drawn-out scenario in which people, presumably, will remain “on leave” or be sent “on leave” from whence they will languish in a condition of uncertainty about their future. It is, to say the least, a counterproductive state of affairs for a country with an otherwise pressing agenda and a frustrating set of circumstances for those who must endure them.