The Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc. (TIGI) has today slammed the APNU/AFC Government over recent actions of a top Government Minister, saying his conduct, and by extension the Government, constitutes corruption.
TIGI in a statement issued today said it will not sit idly as the “curse of corruption continues to haunt Guyana in an anniversary year that should mark a commitment to a corruption-free future and not an embrace of past lawlessness at the highest levels of our country”.
“By any international standard, the conduct of Mr. Harmon and by extension, the Government, constitutes corruption”, the statement said.
The local transparency body is calling on the Administration to immediately provide the names of all persons who may have been given instruments of office and the criteria for such appointments after the May 2015 General and Regional Elections.
The TIGI statement follows:
The recent revelations in the local media regarding the appointment of advisors to the APNU +AFC Government and political interference in the work of the Guyana Revenue Authority by Minister of State Mr. Joseph Harmon have set a dark cloud over the operations of the current government.
In justifying his issuing an Instrument of Appointment to Mr. Brian Tiwarie as Business Advisor to the Government, Mr. Harmon is quoted in the March 31, 2016 issue of the Kaieteur Newspaper as saying that “we have issued several instruments like these to persons both from the APNU and the AFC side, and you would notice that I have signed it for many persons who have helped us in the campaign and those who have the capacity to help us further.”
Support during the campaign for office is necessarily support for a political party. The Minister of State is confirming that the government has been using its position to employ and reward, out of state resources, its supporters and donors. By the Minister’s own admission, well-paying and prestigious jobs and other privileges were up for sale during the 2015 elections campaign in which the party stood on an anti-corruption and transparency platform. By any international standard, the conduct of Mr. Harmon and by extension, the Government, constitutes corruption.
TIGI expresses its complete and total rejection of this state of affairs and calls on the government to begin the process of correction by the immediate release of information on all the instruments of appointments issued by the Government and the criteria employed in such appointments. Recognising that the absence of transparency usually spawns authoritarianism and corruption, TIGI also calls on the APNU+AFC Coalition to disclose the identity of the donors pre- and post-elections 2015 and the amount and or value of their contributions.
Of equal concern to TIGI is the report, unchallenged by Mr. Harmon, that he improperly and unlawfully called a halt on seizure of vehicles from the Chinese logging company, Bai-Shan-Lin pursuant to an investigation by the Guyana Revenue Authority into the tax affairs of the company. Over the past several years, Bai-Shan-Lin has been at the epicentre of allegations of corruption and forensic audits have confirmed that the Company has received substantial privileges and apparent immunities without honouring its obligations.
With Guyana languishing in the lower levels of the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, TIGI had expected that a coalition that campaigned on a platform of anti-corruption would have immediately and vigorously confronted corruption as a primary goal. Regretfully, the action by Mr. Harmon and the inaction and silence of the Coalition on corruption suggest that any expectation of early improvement in the perception of corruption in Guyana is at best premature and at worst dangerously misconceived.
TIGI, will not sit idly as the curse of corruption continues to haunt Guyana in an anniversary year that should mark a commitment to a corruption-free future and not an embrace of past lawlessness at the highest levels of our country.