The AFC’s leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, talked a good game about investigating, prosecuting and jailing corrupt government officials. I was all revved up and out of my seat, adrenaline pumping and serotonin jumping, when I read the headline in Kaieteur News talking about the jailing of the corrupt public officials. But then I read further and sat down, feeling a numbing dullness wash over me. After delivering such a thrilling high, Mr Ramjattan lowered the mood by mentioning his strategy for pursuing those who pocket taxpayers’ money – Parliamentary Standing Committees. This standing committee proposal made me sit down. Is this all the AFC and APNU have in store to target the corrupt? Is a bunch of comrades in Parliament going after thieves really the big answer to one of the nastiest problems afflicting Guyanese society? How about borrowing legislation from all those European countries with formidable anti-corruption laws and applying them to Guyana? How about creating an independent anti-corruption agency that is answerable only to Parliament and that cannot be changed without a referendum? Why not create a director of anti-corruption who gets independent and fearsome powers to aggressively pursue those taking from the public purse?
Given its combined parliamentary majority, APNU and the AFC should be writing laws to put into place an irremovable and independent anti-corruption body which serves the Guyanese people for eternity. Why try this piecemeal strategy of a bunch of parliamentary confidantes drinking coffee and deciding who to pursue when a public institution headed by a warrior for the public good can open the bank accounts of the corrupt, track their financial dealings and throw them into jail when they break the law? I hope Mr Ramjattan’s proposal is part of a bigger package of serious change, because while this course of action is a start, it is not enough. Corruption is one of the biggest plagues debilitating this country. The people want momentous change. Parliamentary committees are not what they are looking for. There is corruption at every turn in this broken society. A handful of parliamentary pals cannot stem the tide. They will only deliver limited results and their success is likely to be only cosmetic. In this country of frail confidentiality, who knows what will leak from these discussions of parliamentary pals. If moving change on corruption is to be achieved, the AFC and APNU have to go big and bold by shaking things up. An independent agency fighting corruption is important since the law would require it to keep secrets while ferreting out the offenders regardless of political affiliation and favour.