On May 17, 2019, Ms. Cathy Hughes is reported to have told the media at an AFC press conference that corruption is a culture in Guyana. She proceeded to criticize the public for being involved in corruption.
Her statement was a very clever attempt to protect and excuse this APNU+AFC regime’s massive corruption. Implicit in what she said is that ‘why are you John Public criticizing, you yourselves are corrupt’. It is also expressing a helplessness of the regime in curbing corruption stating that corruption is a ‘culture’ in Guyana, therefore, it cannot be stopped, so stop complaining.
The APNU+AFC regime has allowed itself to be so tied into corruption and now seems totally incapable and unwilling to deal with the problem.
From the first major project corruption engulfed the regime. The D’Urban Park Project is a monument to massive corruption. Multi-millions cannot be accounted for and many illegalities and conflicts of interest took place.
That was just the beginning. Following on the heels was the drug bond at Sussex Street, the changing of the contract for the works at our international airport. The procurement of exercise and text books, the procurement of drugs without tenders costing hundreds of millions of dollars just to name a few.
Ms. Hughes, while admitting that we have had and are having serious problems with corruption, said “…the government was doing everything we can” to stamp it out.
Where is the evidence of that? There is none. Indeed, everything points to the contrary. It is getting worse, unchecked and totally out of control.
Only recently we saw the shameless extravagance of this regime.
The case of Ms. Hughes’ own company doing work for the government is a conflict of interest. Take also the recent case at the CCJ in which five ministers journeyed to Trinidad to listen to the case. Those ministers were collecting big out of pocket allowances and an all expenses paid trip in which they hired grand SUVs with drivers to chauffeur them around in style.
Contrast that behaviour to the PPP/C government when it initiated the case at the World Court to demarcate our maritime border with Suriname. Not a single PPP/C Minister ever travelled to hear that important matter. Indeed, it never crossed the mind of the administration to send anyone because they would have served no useful purpose being there.
When I presided over the Cabinet between 2011 and 2015 every trip that came before us had to be justified. We had to be satisfied that it was necessary and brought benefits to the country. No joy rides were tolerated.
The APNU+AFC regime cannot curb corruption. Under this regime, things will only get worse.
The group that wields power is just ensuring that they make as much money from their office before they have to leave, for one reason or the other. When the masses of people see this kind of behaviour by senior personnel of this regime, when they see attacks on legitimate businesses because they want to replace them with other business with whom they have cosy relations, what do we expect the public to think? A case in point is what was just in the press in relation to SuperBet, a Suriname company. From all indications high officers in the regime have another company to take its place and they are frustrating and pressuring SuperBet to clear the field. They are using the state apparatus for this.
This regime, instead of fighting corruption, is defending it. This is seen clearly with the revelation of serious wrongdoings at SOCU.
No Ms. Hughes, the regime of which you are a part of has no desire to fight corruption, indeed, it fosters and promotes the scourge!
If this regime is serious in fighting corruption, then I suggest that it agrees with the proposal made by the PPP in the National Assembly early in the life of this 11th Parliament, that all the ministers of the government, dating back ten years to present must declare all their assets, including overseas assets. False declarations would be punished by imprisonment.
That would certainly be a good first step to change the ‘corruption culture’ in the society that Ms. Hughes spoke about.
The ball is in your court Cathy, raise the matter in Cabinet and see how far you will get.