The call for good governance is in the halls of every modern and democratic institution, but for Guyana this is not only a call, it is enshrined in our Constitution. For instance, the call for the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) has its merit in Article 212W. (1) which expressly states, “There shall be a Public Procurement Commission the procurement purpose of which is to monitor public procurement and the procedures therefor in order to ensure that the procurement of goods, services and execution of works are conducted in a fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective manner according to law and such policy guidelines as may be determined by the National Assembly.”
A constitution is an instrument that guides/governs the behaviours of people in a society or organisation. When we, the workers/people, collectively pursued self-determination in our struggles for independence and republican status, it was because we desired to fulfill the inalienable right to determine our destiny. Thus, the refusal by the Executive and the support given to that refusal to appoint the constitutionally required PPC speaks to an act of defiance against the people’s collective determination.
The Alliance for Change’s principled and relentless call for the PPC appointment must not only be commended but supported by every Guyanese because it aspires to ensure the fulfillment of our desire.
The PPC sets out to ensure accountability in the awarding of contracts in the name of the people with a view to removing corruption, whether perceived or real. Corruption is a hindrance to human rights and the rule of law which form the foundation for the creation and sustenance of modern and civilised societies. And any act to deny the nation the opportunity to stamp it out, to have a positive international image and be embraced in the fold of modern societies must be seen as a betrayal of the tenets that govern our behaviours and what we aspire to be.
According to the United Nations, “Human rights are indivisible and interdependent, and the consequences of corrupt governance are multiple and touch on all human rights — civil, political, economic, social and cultural, as well as the right to development. Corruption leads to violation of the government’s human rights obligation ‘to take steps…to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the [named] rights…’ The corrupt management of public resources compromises the government’s ability to deliver an array of services, including health, educational and welfare services, which are essential for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.
Also, the prevalence of corruption creates discrimination in access to public services in favour of those able to influence the authorities to act in their personal interest, including by offering bribes. The economically and politically disadvantaged suffer disproportionately from the consequences of corruption, because they are particularly dependent on public goods…”
And where there are no strong oversight institutions corruption permeates.
This presents a clear and present danger with the nation travelling the downward spiral if our politicians, civil society, media, religious community, etc. do not inculcate the will and determination to collectively stand up and fight this crime. The money that flows in the awarding of contracts, be it from the Consolidated Fund, loan from a regional or international institution, or country, grant from somewhere, all belong to the people, and must be accounted for on their behalf. In the absence of accountable institutions the current claims of corruption at the ministry level; Guyana Power & Light Company (GPL); GuySuCo; pharmaceuticals; roads, bridges, buildings; NICIL; Amaila Falls; Marriott Hotel; etc are allowed to go unfettered.
In the final analysis
corrupt practices determine the quality of life every Guyanese enjoys and undermines our holistic development. For we may continue to have unjust electricity charges; unhealthy environment; sugar workers denied just wages and working conditions, poor health care, overpriced, substandard and expired drugs; saddled with paying for an airport expansion that is unrealistic with our commercial standing; a hydro project costing more than the National Budget dooming generations to pay for power we cannot consume and a debt that will be a noose around our necks; etc. Corruption also denies the pensioner a decent income and other benefits, the employee a liveable wage, the society opportunities for the creation of new employment to absorb the young, unemployed and underemployed; and more so giving the citizens the needed security to pursue happiness in their land and not in another man’s.
The ambivalence by some actors in the opposition to mobilise and galvanise support on matters of national import and universal rights and have the Executive honour them is making a bad situation worse. The opposition must be reminded that the people voted for them, and as such it becomes incumbent to stop kow-towing to the Executive’s agenda.
It is important for the opposition to understand that they have to leverage the people’s power to acquire benefits for the people. They must be able to understand and grapple with the intricacies of politics and governance.
Good governance continues to elude us but lost ground can be made up providing we honour the Constitution and concomitant laws and demand our elected officials secure our input consistent with Article 13.
The time has come for us to put public back into service. And consistent with this principle it is acceptable to stop the president, Members of Parliament in the streets, write or telephone them, visit their political office during business hours and make known concerns and desires, form groups, identity your problems and petition them. This goes for the government and opposition for all are expected to deliver for us. This is another way to hold them accountable and stop the behaviour where any elected official, paid by all the people, can have the gall to say to a citizen, ‘you people voted for the APNU, go to them and let them build the street in your community.’