Guyana’s corruption rating skewed, PPP says

– accuses local transparency group of bias

The PPP will not accept Guyana’s rating on Trans-parency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) as long as Transparency Institute Guyana Inc (TIGI) plays a role in arriving at that rating.

Earlier this month Transparency International (TI) released on its website its 2013 CPI, which showed Guyana rated 136 out of 177 countries with a score of 26 out of 100; with 100 representing the lowest perceptions of corruption.

These scores were worse when compared to Guy-ana’s 2012 performance at which time Guyana scored 28. Observers such as Analyst and Chartered Christopher Ram had said that the slip, albeit by one point, is significant.

Furthermore, Guyana’s current standing, when compared to the 2013 performances of  regional neighbours including Bar-bados, the Bahamas and St Lucia which hit scores of 75, 71 and 71 respectively, really puts the matter into perspective.

According to the site, Guyana is the worst performer in the Caribbean behind Haiti; and placed 28th out of the 32 countries in the Americas.

But yesterday, Dharamkumar Seeraj of the PPP’s Central Execu-tive Committee said that these numbers cannot be taken as valid since TIGI, an organisation whose credibility is questionable considering its “bias” towards government and friendliness with A Part-nership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC), was involved in the gathering of data used to determine Guyana’s standing on the index.

Speaking at the party’s weekly press brief, he told reporters that while the party respects TI, the organisation’s collaboration with TIGI is counterproductive since the local chapter’s biases would have undoubtedly played a role in whatever processes were used to arrive at Guyana’s ratings. He added that the PPP always welcomes “constructive criticism,” but before TIGI can pronounce on corruption levels in Guyana it must first be credible.

Seeraj therefore suggested that TI review the “source” of the information it received on Guyana, and said that the organisation needs to better explain the methodology and techniques used to arrive at the ratings.

He is of the opinion that many Guyanese share the PPP’s concerns, and will therefore suspect Guyana’s rating as being the product of a biased and subjective approach.

Noting that the PPP/C government has always been critical of the rating on Guyana produced by TI, last Tuesday Stabroek News questioned Anand Goolsaran, TIGI’s Presi-dent on the validity of Guyana’s score. Goolsaran, who was at the time facilitating the announcement of Guyana’s scores at the Pegasus Hotel told the public that the reason behind the government’s opposition to the result was flawed.

It is not TIGI that gathers the data which goes towards the construction of the CPI, but a group of around 13 international, independent and impartial organisations around the world.

In Guyana’s case, he said that the World Bank (WB), the World Economic Forum, the International Country Guide, and the Global Insight Country Risk Rating were the bodies which carried out surveys.

He said they framed their own questions; ensured that the sample sizes used would represent the perception of the population, and used a combination of questionnaires and face-to-face interviews to arrive at their figures.

Members of the business community, general members of the public and even government officials, Goolsaran said, were interviewed in an effort to generate society’s perception of corruption in Guyana. Finally, he said that TIGI is not at all involved in the generation of the index.

But Seeraj disagrees. He said that his 20 years of experience with international organisations has taught him that their local chapters usually play critical roles, such as determining who would be interviewed by the organisations.

According to Seeraj, TIGI, because of its “bias” against government would have been selective in determining where surveys were carried out, and who the targets of these surveys were.

This would have most likely been done to increase the perception of corruption in Guyana. As such, he said, while the CPI shows that the perception of corruption has increased, this may be very different from the reality of the situation.

This false perception that corruption is on the increase, says General Secretary Clement Rohee, is a result of the reporting of the “opposition media” – Stabroek News and Kaieteur News. Rohee told reporters yesterday that this was one of the matters that were discussed by the party when the Central Executive Committee met last Saturday in Albion, East Berbice.

Rohee said that the two publications, along with several broadcast media entities play a role in convincing the public that corruption is on the increase.

Similar to views expressed President Donald Ramotar and other government and party members, Rohee yesterday accused “certain sections of the media” of being cohorts with the AFC and APNU. This, he said, explains their hostility towards government and the many projects initiated by government to better the country’s economy. Rohee is convinced that the actions of the political opposition and its media have hurt prospects for domestic and international investments.

But the party intends to challenge this perceived assault by the “opposition media” by being more aggressive in “addressing the agenda of the incessant opposition media.”

TIGI along with the opposition parties have pointed to the absence of bodies such as the Public Procurement Commission (PPC), the Integrity Com-mission (IC); coupled with the fact that others such as the Ombudsman’s Office, and have argued that these realities create an atmosphere where corruption can thrive.

When asked if the PPP believes that the deficiencies in setting up these bodies can increase perceptions of corruption, Rohee said that it is incorrect to assume that the existing status of these bodies automatically means that corruption is taking place as it being argued by the opposition.

The creation of such perceptions, Rohee said is one of the reasons that “the opposition and its media will not go unchallenged.”

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