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Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday last said that he was “surprised” Guyana only dropped two points on the Transparency International Corruption Index during 2021, even as he labeled the organisation as “biased” and lacking integrity.
In fact, the VP insisted that the former APNU + AFC government is responsible for the country’s performance last year. As he addressed reporters at a Press Conference hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on Thursday, Dr. Jagdeo said, “…frankly speaking, I’m very surprised we’ve only slipped two points” while adding that he believes Guyana could have performed worse.
“We could possibly go lower when we start (revealing the APNU’s record) and the media coverage starts coming out about the way the Public Accounts Committee, now they have started to look at the Auditor General’s report from 2016 remember in the entire APNU period practically, the Public Accounts Committee could not get to consider in great detail what took place in that period. The audit reports were tabled, the Public Accounts Committee didn’t get to go through it in great detail,” he reasoned.
During last year, Guyana dropped two points on the Transparency International Corruption Index, meaning that corruption in the country’s public sector climbed, after a full year under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government. Jagdeo is however confident that his government is not responsible for the country’s corruption increase, but rather the Coalition government.
In further presenting his conclusion, the VP said that there were egregious transgressions committed by the former A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) government, during their tenure between 2015 and 2020, which were only brought to the fore when PPP took office.
These include a Minister “taking an unsolicited bid to the cabinet, and getting a cabinet approval, and then spending a hundred and something million dollars on the basis of that approval, which was illegally obtained because the laws of Guyana says that a cabinet cannot approve contracts. It only has a no objection role” according the former Head of State. Jagdeo therefore concluded that the international organization, which ranked Guyana 39 out of 180 countries, for corruption, is “biased”. It must be noted that a country’s score is measured on a scale of 0-100, where 0 means highly corrupt and 100 means very clean.
According to him, Transparency International was “muted” while corruption was taking place under the David Granger-led government. “They were muted, turn on the mute button in the whole APNU period when these transgressions were taking place, very muted; now they’re aggressive again but…they seem to have an anti PPP agenda,” he posited.
Moreover, Jagdeo argued that the institution does not issue reports which would aid in their transparency. “TIGI (Transparency Institute Guyana Inc), they don’t have any integrity as far as I’m concerned because they’re very selective. Now if you look at also Transparency International, I believe that they are biased against (the) developing World…if you look at these things there may be justifiable cause for the index or a slipping on the index. It could be a function of misinformation, by organizations, like TIGI because they have an anti PPP agenda,” the VP contended.
He went on to explain that the transparency watchdogs would not only take into account the executive performance, but also the Judiciary and civil liberties of a country, all of which he believes were flawed under the stewardship of the former government. Transparency International, in its recently published Corruption Perception Index presented a chart which depicted that when the Coalition Party assumed office in 2015, Guyana’s score stood at 29. The following year, it progressed to 34, and in 2017, it jumped to 38. In 2018, Guyana dropped a point but in 2019, it again increased to 40 and finally, 41 in 2020.