The anti-corruption court in Pakistan has convicted and sentenced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to seven years’ imprisonment for failing to justify the source of income relating to his ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia. He had earlier been convicted and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment in connection with the purchase of high-end apartments in London. One recalls the conviction and sentencing of former Brazilian President Lula da Silva to 12 years’ imprisonment for accepting a gift of a beachfront property from an engineering firm in exchange for help to secure contracts from the State-owned oil company Petrobras; and the impeachment and removal of another former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff for breaching budget laws. The current President Michel Temer is also facing corruption charges for receiving money from a meat-packing company.
Here in Guyana, Prof. Clive Thomas of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) spoke of the need to have legislation in place requiring persons alleged to possess unexplained wealth to prove their sources of income for such wealth, or face prosecution. The Guyana Revenue Authority has the power to raise arbitrary assessments based on lifestyle audits on persons where there appears to be a mismatch between their assets and their sources of income. This is necessary from a tax evasion point of view, which is a criminal offence. However, additional measures are needed for public officials who, by virtue of the positions they hold, may be tempted to indulge in corrupt behaviour, enriching themselves at the expense of the State and its citizens. We support Prof. Thomas’s call which we ourselves had recommended in several of our columns. The current Administration, as part of its action plan for its first 100 days in office, had listed establishing an Investigative Commission on Corruption as one of the 21 actions to be undertaken. To date, no effort has been made to so.
The news out last week on Christmas Day is that a new political party, A New and United Guyana (ANUG), has been formed to contest the national elections constitutionally due by 21 March 2019, following the recent vote of no confidence in the Granger-led Administration. The key personalities behind the formation of ANUG are: Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran (former Speaker of the National Assembly); Dr Henry Jeffrey (former Minister under the PPP/C Administration); Attorney-at-law Timothy Jonas; and businessman Terrence Campbell – all of whom are highly respected individuals. The main focus of ANUG is on constitutional reform and shared governance. ANUG has also given the firm commitment that it will not join forces with the two main political parties, the PPP/C and the PNCR, which have dominated Guyana’s political landscape since the 1950s and which have drawn their support overwhelming from the two major ethnic groups…..