Pre-empting current corruption temptations

– opposition and media ‘watchdogs’

– another Caricom week, with Brazil

Recall that quite early on in the life of the APNU-AFC tenure there was talk of a ministerial/senior public service code-of-conduct.

And no it’s not still only talk. There was a draft; then explanations that the code would be associated with Integrity Commission legislation. So the intent was/is there. Correct?

Then there was the little matter of the really big salary increases for all the brand new 2015 ministers of the administration whilst lesser public service mortals still struggle to keep the government working. The massive increases, it was explained, were befitting of the status of the ministers and MPs and could diminish any temptation towards corrupt practices for selfish gain. All citizens and taxpayers would hope that that expectation can hold. However, Frankly Speaking, human frailties seem to bow to the authority of high office wherein morality is submerged in favour of temptation and opportunity. Power eventually overcomes and corrupts. Even ‘good’ folks succumb and turn ‘bad’.

Prevention, cure, being fair, just

As a concerned citizen I followed the renewed vigour of SOCU and SARU/SARA after 2015. These investigative watchdogs are the frontline agencies to investigate the thievery executed on the public purse under previous administrations. They are to arrange prosecutions after identifying suspects. Their work load is reportedly extremely heavy consequent upon the numerous forensic audits findings submitted to them.

I was becoming impatient then indifferent because of lots of SOCU/SARA talks, without prosecutorial action. But after SARA’s Major Retymeyer explained the “head start” the alleged crooks had engineered and the legal complexities to be attended to, before building solid (court) cases, I relented and am still patient and hopeful.

But besides the corruption and thievery of the past, what is to be done to preempt temptations of the newer incumbents? Hefty salaries? Codes of behaviour? Watchdogs? Surely, actual arrests of any current, identified wrongdoers in high places will send powerful preventative messages! What? The politics of “our-own” will intervene? Prevail? But there is also an aggressive political and parliamentary opposition. And a robust, scrutineering media.

Letting down, locking up

In terms of commentary on past corrupt practices in high government corridors of power – from Burnham to Bharrat and Donald – I’ve been “advised” against utilizing two of my favourite Creole folk proverbs: “Good tiefman mek good watchman” and “tiefman nah like see e mattie wid bag.” So I shall not use them today.

Suffice for me to remark that, to my mind, His Excellency Rt Brigadier, President David Arthur Granger – coming from his own familial upper-middleclass, financially comfortable, military background, is still a leader of unimpeachable integrity. So it should be a “high crime” of sorts, for any of those he has gathered around him to violate his trust in them. They must take example from him. (No rumours or Pradoville surround him!) Miscreants must be locked-up” forthwith!

Then a keen savvy opposition will scrutinize, will ferret out. They know what to look for. Investigative journalism – professional and objective – must be that other estate of stakeholders to ensure public service integrity. Without fake news and sensationalism.

I suggest also that there be established – with both public and private individuals – an office of integrity and anti-corruption to utilize all that the forensic audits uncovered and indicated as loopholes  now easily exploited. This group should also anticipate and preempt all vulnerable “soft-spots” the wicked could use for thievery and their selfish gain. For example, what areas could be wide open for thievery, as we move to oil and gas? Discuss…

Our Caricom, our Brazil

For the 38th time the leaders of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) met to discuss issues relevant to the citizens of its member states.

However subdued these days it should still be a matter of pride for us that as with the Caribbean Festival of Arts (Carifesta) – our own Forbes Burnham was among the small group(s) who established Carifta, then Caricom. But how has this socio-economic bloc or “community” fared after nearly four decades? Expect no analyses from my simple mind, though I entertain long-held views on this regional effort and institution.

Rather, I can pose, for your own, consideration, these simple questions. (Barbados’ Owen Arthur “inspired” them). Could Caricom now be considered to be any “singe-market”? With a “single” economy? Could the more developed economies in the community really welcome, “freely”, the thousands from lesser developed states? In oil-producing Guyana will we encourage “free-movement” in five years’ time? Is the Caricom Secretariat or individual member governments responsible for ensuring laws and regulations accommodate common objectives?

I’ve seen Secretary-General La Rocque’s agenda for the Grenada Confab. Impressive. From post-Brexit to Caricom human resource development to this August’s Carifesta, the discussions would have flowed. But did the Heads come out strongly in favour of member-state Guyana, against Venezuela?

Meanwhile, until I return (continually) to this topic I leave you with these basic facts about the Brazil-Guyana relationship: there is a Guyana/Brazil group on council cooperation, a Guyana/Brazil frontier committee, as well as other groupings/committees meant to deepen relationship/cooperation between the giant Southern neighbour and us – an under-developed Caricom state on the verge of oil production.

Recently, in both Lethem and Brazilia numerous agreements and memoranda were signed. If just half of these programmes fructify, Brazil – in all types of trouble herself – can become a real significant “grandfather” to us. I must return to all this. Caricom – or Brazil? Or both?

Ponder well…

  • 1) How long would it take a “military mind” – given to instruction – to recognize, admit, review and correct major mistakes?
  • 2) Quote of the week (from a Stabroek News editorial): “The fact of the matter is that whatever we might hope for, there already exists an abundance of evidence that good government and prudent government cannot be guaranteed down the road, whatever the prevailing altruistic soundings of the incumbent administration…”
  • 3) Second half the year and no start to the new vendors’ mall on the old co-op bank site! Why?

’Til next week!





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