The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government is facing mounting criticisms over a number of contracts and other deals which many consider to be “shady” or “questionable” transactions, leading to fresh accusations that the 18-month-old Administration is mired in corruption.
The most recent broadside came from People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary Clement Rohee, who lambasted President David Granger who he said was busy trying to create diversions to protect his Ministers from public scrutiny.
“When Mr Granger said there was corruption in the Private Sector, he was obviously shielding his Government from public scrutiny and encouraging the public to look elsewhere for corruption and not in his camp,” Rohee told a Monday morning press conference called by his Party.
Rohee added that the President’s claim was “another use of the device of deception by the President to obfuscate the rampant corruption in the APNU/AFC Administration”.
Rohee sought to support his contention with examples, including recent questionable actions by the Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Water incorporated (GWI), Dr Richard Van West-Charles, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) procurement fiasco and the controversial single-sourcing of a makeshift pharmaceutical bond by the Public Health Ministry.
Already, a number of independent anti-corruption campaigners have taken President Granger to task over his apparent inaction when it comes to accusations of corruption involving top Government officials.
Earlier this year, the Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI) issued scathing assessments of the Government, essentially concluding that the coalition was facilitating and proliferating corruption in the country, pointing to a number of questionable appointments by the Government and interference in the work of some autonomous agencies like the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Further, in April 2016, the US Department of State said that corruption continued to be among the leading human rights problems facing Guyana.
“There remained a widespread public perception of corruption involving officials at all levels, including the Police and the judiciary,” the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015, released by the Department, said.
It noted, however, that the Government responded to the report, but did not elaborate.
The report also stated that while the law required public officials to declare their assets to the Integrity Commission, the Commission has not been constituted.
It added that the law set out both criminal and administrative sanctions for nondisclosure to the Commission by public officials, but, no such publication or convictions occurred during the year.
However, President Granger in an effort to exculpate his Government has said that corruption in Guyana was more rampant in the Private Sector and non-State organisations than in his Government.
He said the real contributors to corruption were those who committed crimes of tax evasion, smuggling, narcotics trafficking, trafficking in persons and money laundering, none of which really emanate from within Government, but rather, benefit the Private Sector, offshore banks and tax havens.