Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
Accountability is a key component in any organisation, business, government and at its most basic family. In the family this is determined by the values parents set for their household and whether the children will conform or deviate. Few can deny when they disobey, they weren’t punished by their parents. That punishment represents the consequences for not doing right by the family and hurting its image as a consequence of.
Extrapolate the aforesaid to a national level and it includes government. The only difference is that whilst in the family the parents are in charge, in government it is the people, who have elected their representatives, that are. It is the people’s expectation of their government, in its capacity as servant of the people, to account for what they are doing.
The people are the taxpayers and financiers of government spending and are entitled to know how their money is being spent. Apart from the Auditor General reports, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee offers this level of accountability. This is why it is so important for the committee to be functioning free of hindrance. It is this committee that will summon departmental heads to answer questions about spending and is therefore key to the people keeping abreast of what is happening with their money.
The day-to-day management of the state is entrusted to elected and public officials from the president on down. He/she is the Chief Public Servant and ultimately the buck stops at him/her to be accountable to the people. Guyanese should be concerned President Irfaan Ali has been presiding over a Cabinet since August 2020 that has been meeting weekly but there has been no post Cabinet press briefing. Guyanese do not know what is taking place in those meetings and what decisions are being made. Citizens are being left in the dark.
Where citizens continue to rely on the media to bring the news to them from the government, it is sad President Ali at his first press conference for the year, held last Saturday, chose not to invite some section of private media. The state media obviously will ask questions to help the government. They may even ignore, misrepresent, or downplay matters of national significance if the image of the government could be hurt or damaged. While this may be all well and good for supporters of the government, the private media may not necessarily have similar interest and are likely to ask probing questions which the people deserve.
The National Assembly, where all the elected representatives sit, is being reduced to a farce. It has become a time-wasting exercise of little importance other than record keeping. There is a sense the government feels compelled to have sittings out of shame to give the impression they are working and justification for collecting pay. The government is refusing to answer questions brought by the Opposition and the Speaker is abusing his power by stifling the Opposition’s input or motions.
Transparency International while recording Guyana, though still tainted with a corrupt past, has improved by one percent on the 2020 Corruption Perception Index, has called for transparency in the disbursement of the $25,000 cash grant. The Coalition Opposition had asked for the Auditor General to do an audit. Both are yet to be done.
Then there is growing concern about the management of oil and gas and Local Content. In less than three months Guyana had two oil flares. These are dangerous for the environment and people, but the government is not forthcoming with answers about what is happening and how they will hold the oil companies accountable. Contracts such as the Kaieteur and Canje blocks are still shrouded in secrecy and Guyanese do not know who owns them.
There is too much secrecy going on and the government is operating as though it does not have to account to the people. It does. Achieving this relies on the people demanding accountability.