Lack of procurement commission expected to raise red flags during OAS corruption review

No Public Procurement Commission (PPC) is what an Organisation of American States (OAS) team here to follow-up on an anti-corruption convention will find next week, when it meets with government and civil society representatives from Tuesday to Thursday.

An OAS committee five years ago had urged the Government of Guyana to see to the establishment of the PPC to ensure transparency in the procurement of goods and services. The government has failed to comply with this and other recommendations of the committee, including a database of contractors and their record of performance or non-performance.

The OAS had also called for the sanctioning of government officials who infringe procurement rules. And the non-passage of effective anti-money laundering legislation could possibly have an impact on Guyana’s readiness to combat corruption as envisaged by the Convention.

The commission from the OAS Mechanism for Follow-Up on the Implementation of the Inter- American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) is likely to hear an earful from politicians and civil society groups.

This visit, for which the Government of Guyana gave permission, is a part of the review process that the Mechanism is carrying out.

The OAS had said that the Commission will be made up of representatives from Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as from the Department of Legal Cooperation of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs of the OAS, in its capacity as the Technical Secretariat of the MESICIC.

It said that meetings are to take place with representatives from oversight bodies responsible for preventing, detecting and punishing corruption. The purpose of the meetings is to review the manner in which the Inter- American Convention against Corruption is being implemented in Guyana “and to provide first hand, objective and complete information for consideration of its national report, which will be adopted by the Committee of Experts of the MESICIC in a plenary meeting in March 2014.”

In addition, the Commission plans to meet with civil society organisations in the country to address the topics that are currently being reviewed in the Fourth Round of the Mechanism. “It will also provide an opportunity to address the implementation of the recommendations formulated in the First Round, in areas such as conflicts of interest, the reporting of acts of corruption, and systems for registering income, assets and liabilities,” the OAS statement said.

It noted that to date, the countries that have received on-site visits are Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras, Panama, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia and Guatemala.

“The MESICIC is a cooperation mechanism between states, with the participation of civil society organizations, established within the framework of the OAS, in which the legal/institutional framework of each country is reviewed for suitability with the Inter-American Convention against Corruption as well as the objective results achieved therein,” it said. “The incorporation of on-site visits as a stage and integral part of the MESICIC represents an innovative and pioneering initiative of the OAS, which, with the support of the Technical Secretariat, has further strengthened this review process,” it said.

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