PSC seeks meeting with transparency body on ‘perceived corruption’

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) says it is seeking a meeting with the Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI) to discuss the recently published report on corruption.

The PSC wants to engage TIGI after it declared during an engagement with the media a week ago that the organisation’s assessment of corruption in Guyana will have an impact on “the private sector and the nation as a whole”.

The release of the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index report earlier this month has been met with a robust response from government through its various officials who have been supported in their rejection of the report by some individual businessmen. While the PSC has neither endorsed nor rejected pronouncements on official corruption in Guyana it declared in last week’s media brief that the report was based on “perceived corruption”. The PSC says it fears the image of Guyana that could result from the findings of the TI report could affect incoming investment and there is need for the development of institutions that will guard against the perception of corruption such as a functioning Integrity Commission and a Public Procure-ment Commission.

PSC Chairman Ronald Webster

While the government’s contention that the perception of corruption is not in keeping with Guyana’s reality, its critics, including some private sector functionaries contend that assertions that are based on perceptions may well have grounds for validity. A prominent high street merchant who spoke with this newspaper on condition of anonymity said the authorities know only too well “that it would not be easy to get the kind of evidence of corruption that might stand up in court. Anyone who believes, for example, that there is no official corruption at the level of Customs for example, has to be living on another planet.” The businessman told Stabroek Business he had “personal knowledge” of more than one importer and more than one investor who had to “make payments in order to get their business done.”

Asked to comment on the PSC’s views on TI’s corruption claims the businessman said he had “no problem” with the umbrella body’s position but the PSC has placed itself in a position where it now has to be seen to be vigorously lobbying for the creation of strong institutions to guard against corruption.”

The PSC’s assertion that the TI report is based on “perceived corruption” has raised questions about what is believed in some quarters to be its reluctance to openly criticise the government, an issue which was raised at last week’s PSC encounter with the media. PSC Chairman Ronald Webster told the briefing that the commission was seeking more opportunities to engage the media on issues of public interest.

Meanwhile, in what, arguably, amounts to a thinly veiled criticism of the government the PSC said in its briefing that it believed the capacity and strength of the country’s institutions have fallen behind in the evolution of the economy and the country and are in need of rebuilding.

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