Anti-corruption people despise secrecy

Dear Editor,

In the early part of February, word came that the GRA and Kaieteur News chiefs settled outstanding differences. Such settlements are usually mostly constructive, and recommended. It would have been even more constructive, if the details of the resolutions to such a high-profile matter had been shared. Secrecy, possible secret deals, and any slim claims to confidentiality did not accrue to the benefit of the parties concerned, and rendered an injustice to the watching public.

The GRA is, in all likelihood, one of the largest moneymaking enterprises in this land. It should not, cannot, and must not operate in thick sinister darkness. This applies whether the issue at hand is over duty-free concessions or fines for narcotics boats, among other things. Further, given that many (including KN) have claimed that the GRA uses the tax weapon to bludgeon the unruly and unquiet into submission and silence, there is now a shroud of secrecy in this specific instance that introduces a film of unhealthy uncleanliness to the whole, increasingly suspicious, affair. The tax weapon can be used to wound some, or it can be used to make some wilt.

Sure, there had to have been the compromises that emanate from hard bargaining. But what was sold and what was bought?

Before I answer what is asked, I must digress. It has been my steadfast position that for one to denounce corruption, and to take the lead in credible anti-corruption activities, such party must, of necessity, be more chaste than Caesar’s wife. I have contended, and publicly so, about the special relevance of this as it pertains to this pervasively corrupt society. It is most applicable in view of the particular confluence of facts and circumstances here. Now the Great GRA compromise only exacerbates such contentions, since Caesar’s wife is now naked and in a seemingly compromising position. Accordingly, it would be most helpful if the corporate, currency, and collaborative veils are hastily lifted in this one instance. I urge this step, if only to introduce a smidgen of sanctity to the closed-door, hopefully above-the-table deliberations and decision processes. Now in answer to the previous question as to what might have possibly been sold (or extracted). Here was a situation involving double-digit millions in duty avoided and penalties that could have been levied on the one side, and more secrets exposed on the other. In view of the supposed mutual antagonisms unfurled in this episode, I venture that weighty exchanges had to be part of the quid pro quo. It could not have been cheap either way. Hence, I will go out on a limb, and very early too.

Methinks I detect a subtle shift in the issues prioritized by KN, and their tone and content, even though it has been only the shortest of short weeks since the amicable meeting of the minds occurred. My instincts caution that something has changed, that there is a more nuanced approach at KN. The sharpness, the bellicosity, and the street swagger all seem more subdued. Like I said, the days are young yet, and I could be proven wrong once again. I do hope so.

In closing, I restate the obvious: anti-corruption people despise secrecy; and those dedicated to such pursuits spit on compromise of any kind. They keep their noses clean, and their hands gloved. Enough said.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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