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US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch, in a statement marking International Anti-Corruption Day (December 9), said the Government of Guyana must do more to combat corruption.
“We continue to look forward to the government’s initiatives to combat corruption, including Natural Resource Fund legislation that offers both transparency and clear oversight, and to a meaningful and inclusive process of stakeholder engagement,” Ambassador Lynch said.
A strong anti-corruption stance, she said, will demonstrate to Guyanese citizens, and the rest of the world, that the Government is committed to transparent institutions that utilize the country’s resources to the long-term benefit for all Guyanese.
Pointing to legislation enacted under the David Granger Administration in 2018, the US Ambassador said important steps were taken to aid in the fight against corruption, however, she said much more need to be done.
“In 2018, the Guyana Public Service Commission was reconstituted after a 13-year hiatus. This was a step towards ensuring fairness and transparency in the public service system. The Government of Guyana also passed the Protected Disclosures (Whistleblower) Act in 2018, which seeks to protect persons making disclosures from retribution from others, including within the public service. These kinds of legislative reforms are necessary parts of a successful plan to fight corruption,” the US Ambassador explained.
Ambassador Lynch said for its part, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs has focused on training and mentoring those in the criminal justice sector locally to build their capacity to fight corruption.
International Anti-corruption Day, Ambassador Lynch said, is an important opportunity to bring much needed attention to the fight against corruption through transparency and accountability.
It was noted that around the world, corruption threatens security, hinders economic growth, and siphons away public and private resources.
To mark the occasion, US President Joe Biden hosted a virtual Summit for Democracy, at which President Ali was listed to attend. The US has asked participating Governments to announce meaningful commitments and initiatives, and to engage with civil society and the private and philanthropic sectors, since they play a critical role in supporting democracy, fighting corruption, and protecting human rights.
“In the United States, politicians and corporations alike know there are consequences ranging from jail time to hefty fines if they engage in corrupt activities or violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Our engagement through multilateral bodies, including the region’s main anticorruption body – the OAS’ Mechanism for the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption – helps build strong international anti-corruption standards and ensures countries stay true to their obligations around transparency, accountability, and integrity,” Ambassador Lynch detailed.
She warned that Governments and institutions around the globe cannot allow corruption to flourish as she underscore the need for legislative frameworks that deter corrupt practices and promotes transparency. Further to that, she said the capabilities of criminal justice institutions must be enhanced to investigate and prosecute corruption.
“Government operations should be transparent such that citizens and the media can provide oversight and hold officials accountable. In addition, procurement processes that comply with international anti-corruption standards will ensure a level playing field for investors. Private sector actors must also answer for any role that they play in corrupt practices, and when choosing private sector partners it is advisable to choose the reputable over the most convenient. Most importantly, a robust civil society and free press are critical to holding leaders responsible for their actions,” Ambassador Lynch urged.
Her call comes at a time when Guyana’s Public Procurement System has been marred by allegations of corruption in the absence of a Public Procurement Commission (PPC), which has been defunct for more than a year.