Perhaps it is time to set up an Anti-Corruption Office

Dear Editor,

I refer to the latest reports about acts of corruption at the Guyana Water Inc (GWI) and the Supreme Court Registry, not to mention the CLICO/ NBS/NIS fiasco.

I am wondering whether the time has not come for there to be established an independent Anti-Corruption Office to properly investigate all allegations of corruption in the public sector and to report its findings and recommendations to the legislature. I do not believe that the public has confidence in the existing investigative mechanisms, since from all appearances, their work is compromised by the interference, direction and control of those in authority.

In addition, would it not be worthwhile to establish an Anti-Corruption Court to deal expeditiously with all acts of corruption? How about the establishment of a Transparency International chapter in Guyana, as was done in Trinidad and Tobago several years ago.

I applaud those contractors of GWI who have come forward and reported cases where kickbacks are demanded. I implore all other government contractors to do the same so that corrupt officials can not only be removed from office but also placed behind bars if found guilty.

For every act of corruption, there is a corruptor and a corruptee, and while contractors may be inclined to argue that corruption is a cost of doing business with the government, look at the results. Can anyone honestly say that Guyana can stand on its own legs financially after more than 40 years since the British have left us to manage our affairs?

Guyana depends on loans, grants and other foreign assistance to survive and to stay afloat, not to mention remittances from relatives from overseas in the form of barrels and cash receipts. Also, the extent to which foreign inflows from illicit drugs is propping the Guyana’s economy is anyone’s guess.

In terms of borrowing, how can one explain the simultaneous acts of, on the one hand, borrowing fresh money, and on the other, asking for write-offs and debt forgiveness of past debts because the country is so poor that it is unable to repay these debts?

The only answer appears to be that the present officials continue to borrow because they would not be around when the freshly borrowed money has to be repaid. They do not give the impression that they are inclined to manage the country in such a way that it can sustain itself in the longer term.

Should we not also attribute some of the blame to funding agencies who continue to lend the country money knowing full well that the amounts involved would eventually have to be written off?

As regards loans, look at what these are mainly for: roads, schools, hospitals, bridges and other infrastructure − areas that are fertile ground for corruption through the award of large contracts and the payment of bribes to win such contracts. The larger the contract, the bigger will be the kickback.  If 15% kickbacks are demanded on all official contracts, the figure is likely to run into hundreds of millions of dollars that will end up in the pockets of corrupt officials.

The contractor for his part, will have to recoup this cost of doing business, and invariably the quality of the work suffers. In this way, Guyana suffers. In the end, there is private gain, public pain!

In the same way that a deadly computer virus goes about destroying the files in the computer and eventually causing the computer to crash, so it is with corruption. This unprecedented level of corruption, if allowed to go unchecked, will destroy the country and will eventually grind it to a halt.

It will then be the herculean task of the few remaining patriotic Guyanese to pick up the pieces and start the rebuilding process.

Yours faithfully,
(Name and address
provided)

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