As we continue to re-organise our society and the larger economy, addressing issues of corruption is of paramount importance. However, while on the one hand the law must be applied where there are breaches, on the other hand, there is need for more innovation and creativity in reviewing and revising or generally strengthening our institutions.
One of my areas of advocacy is for the macro-economic development focus or the national development policy to be redesigned around six pillars: a Green Economy, Blue Economy, Agrarian or Agricultural Economy, Oil and Gas Economy, Natural Resources Economy and a Service Economy. If this approach is applied, it will allow for individuals, institutions and the society to be re-organised around these six pillars. This will enable our decision-makers and implementers to craft policies, strategies and programmes in a wider context.
Let’s look at an example of how the ‘service economy’ approach can be reduced as an aspect of corruption, while at the same time increasing revenue collection. One of the services which could be implemented by the government is, ‘Priority Services’. This will be applicable to agencies such as the Guyana Revenue Authority, Guyana Registrars’ Office (births and registrations), passport agency, the Supreme Court Registry, Deeds Registry, etc. This proposed new mechanism (Priority Services) will enable individuals, organisations, businesses, etc, that require services expeditiously, to have access to such services through a legal process by paying a higher cost for a priority service.
For many years, this service is being provided and is paid for, but is illegal, since it is provided by individuals who are not authorized to transact these kinds of businesses, but who nevertheless, use their positions, authority and influence to provide them. The fact that this kind of corruption is so pervasive in Guyana is evidence that there is a demand for a faster service in many areas in the public sector, and that a number of individuals, organisations and businesses are willing to pay for these services.
My recommendation, therefore, is that the Ministry of Finance and the public sector generally, where appropriate, re-evaluate the current structure and integrate a system to facilitate ‘Priority Services’. It is important to note, that the act of paying for a faster service is not illegal in itself; what is illegal, is that the persons who are transacting the business on behalf of these organisations, are not authorized to do so as individuals.