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Guyana has recorded a significant decline in its fight to combat Corruption since the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) took Office in August 2020, Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon said on Thursday, in a statement marking International Anti-Corruption Day.
“We are yet to see the reconstituting of the Public Procurement Commission, while every day multimillion dollar contracts are being handed to PPP cronies,” Harmon said. The Public Procurement Commission (PPC) expired since October 2020, and attempts to reconstitute it have been futile.
According to the Opposition Leader, bribery is on the increase while the Government’s cash grant initiatives have been overtaken by allegations of corruption.
“Bribery has become the order of the day once again. We have seen persons walking around with millions of dollars in bags sharing out grants that have not been properly reconciled or properly accounted for. Reports of persons collecting farmers’ relief grants in region 6 who have no farms, vaccines bought through questionable means and at a questionable price. Vaccine book rackets and the return of the cocaine trade that appears to always be invisible to the eyes of custom officers. These and many more are just some of the things that exemplify the corrupt nature of the PPP administration,” Harmon pointed out.
He said under the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Government, Guyana made tremendous strides in its fight against corruption which resulted in improvement on various Corruption Indices.
“We should all remember that during the APNU+AFC first year in office we achieved our best score on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index with improvements each subsequent year. The Vanderbuilt University’s Latin American Public Opinion Project reported in 2014 that Guyana was ranked high among countries where citizens acceded to police bribery requests, and participated in bribery in schools, public health services and work settings,” he pointed out.
Harmon said by 2016, Guyana was better positioned as a result of careful planning, ardent research and a committed workforce, which resulted in the implementation of critical legislation and systems. In 2017, the State Assets Recovery Act, which led to the setting up of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA), was passed.
“That agency trained over three thousand public servants from the Guyana Revenue Authority, the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defense Force, the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission, the Bank of Guyana and the Ministry of Finance. SARA held numerous anti-corruption workshops in secondary schools and technical institutions across Guyana. A number of private sector businesses also benefited from anti-corruption training and workshops. It must be highlighted that SARA had over 15 cases before the court. These cases indicted many current Senior Government Officials and their private sector cronies who were all involved in various forms of corruption. If SARA no longer exists then the cases before the court could not be tried, so the PPP’s only option was to shut the agency down under false pretense, giving themselves and friends who funded their elections campaign a free pass,” Harmon further detailed.
He said it was critical for the Government at the time to erase the scourge of corruption. As Guyana joins the rest of the world in observing the International Anti-Corruption Day, Harmon said Guyanese at home and abroad should take action against corruption because it hinders growth and development. “It is your right to fight against the scourge called corruption. You have a role in this fight, don’t be silent, let us stand together and say no to Corruption,” he told citizens.