Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
|Corruption in Guyana is on the rise again. Transparency International Corruption 2021 Perception Index Report shows Guyana has fallen two points, which means that corruption has jumped two points in one year since the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) returned to government.
Village Voice caught up with Member of Parliament Roysdale Forde S.C, who is shadow minister of legal affairs, and solicited his opinion on the second U.S-based VICE News report released recently. Another explosive report, released on 7th July, revealed and narrated a grim alleged connection between government officials, corruption, and an underworld economy. The report “Undercover in Guyana: Exposing Chinese Business in South America” could be watched below.
“All Guyanese must be very concerned about additional revelations in the VICE News extended documentary; it is a huge blow to our national reputation and image. The interplay between politics and corruption is making life much more difficult for ordinary Guyanese, real businesses, and retarding national growth and development,” said Forde.
His view is not inconsistent with the United Nations’ who warned that when the “political and economic systems are enlisted in the service of corrupt actors, wealth is redistributed to the least needy sources. Mechanisms such as political representation and economic efficiency are both compromised by self-dealing and secret exchanges.”
Corruption has dire consequences for the protection and development of people and society. Some effects of corruption are poverty and inequality; personal loss, intimidation and inconvenience; rigged economic and political systems. Guyana, since its oil and gas wealth, is ranked among the world’s fastest growing economies. It is an economy with deficit infrastructures to oversee and investigate corruption, and hold the corrupt accountable, confirming Forde’s point is not without merit.
The State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) established to deal with corruption by state officials was one of the first government offices closed when the PPP/C returned to office. The office was made operational by the A Partnership For National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) government to investigate and reclaim misappropriated state’s assets and hold the guilty accountable.
Justifying the closure of SARA at the time (i.e., October 2020), Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall S.C, said the institution was not crafted with the best interest of the people in mind.
Revelations in the VICE report of underworld economic activities and alleged links to government officials, notedly Vice President (VP) Bharrat Jagdeo, who was a former President, is mind blowing. The VP is accused of being a major player in this underworld corrupt scheme, but President Irfaan Ali has refused, so far, to take any action into these allegations. This is uncharacteristic for countries serious about protecting their image and reputation and sending a strong message of intolerance with corruption.
Responding to President Ali’s non-committal posture, Forde said it is very alarming that “Since that report, none of the relevant authorities has initiated the appropriate investigation, into those very serious allegations [but opted] to only offering up shameless attempts to use spin and public relations to cover up, quite clumsily, those allegations.”
Last month, President Lazarus Chakwera, of Malawi, fired senior officials, including chief police George Kainja, and stripped Vice President Saulos Chilima of his responsibilities after they were named in a corruption scandal. Chakwera told officials that they “are here to serve, not to rule or boast. Occupying high office is not a licence to act high and mighty. The people of Malawi are your bosses, not your subjects.”
Even as the VP denied accepting bribes to allow Chinese businesses to benefit from access to Guyana’s prime lands, mineral resources and award of state contracts and using Su Zhirong as his middleman, revelations in the report are damning enough not to see any action from the Government.