The Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI) last night issued a statement, as a followup to one issued previously on the controversial conduct of Minister of State Mr. Joe Harmon, in which it made it clear that “Corruption takes many forms.”
“Not only does it include the more traditional forms of bribery, kickbacks, extortion, nepotism and cronyism, but also abuse of functions, illicit enrichment and trading in influence (UN Convention against Corruption) and patronage which involves rewarding political support with favours, contracts, appointments, subsidies, prestige and other valued benefits,” TIGI stated.
Following is the full text of the TIGI statement issued last night by the institute’s current President Dr Troy Thomas:
TIGI has taken note of the various responses to its statement on the recent conduct of Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon.
The statement in general and the sentence that actually imputes corruption to the admission by the Minister of State to making certain appointments, is entirely consistent with the draft Code of Conduct for ministers. This draft Code of Conduct reads in part:
“Public office holders have a duty to … act with propriety on all occasions in accordance with the public trust and confidence placed in them. Public office holders have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole…. Public office holders are reminded that they owe a duty to the public and must consider themselves servants of the people.
“A conflict-of-interest situation arises when the “private interests” of the public office holder compete or conflict with the interests of the State. “Private interests” mean both the financial and personal interests of the official and staff or those of their connections, including … other clubs and societies to which they belong; and any person to whom they owe a favour or are obligated in any way.
“They should avoid compromising themselves or their office[s] which may lead to an actual or perceived conflict of interest. Failure to avoid or declare any conflict of interest may give rise to criticism of favouritism, abuse of authority or even allegations of corruption.”
Corruption takes many forms. Not only does it include the more traditional forms of bribery, kickbacks, extortion, nepotism and cronyism, but also abuse of functions, illicit enrichment and trading in influence (UN Convention against Corruption) and patronage which involves rewarding political support with favours, contracts, appointments, subsidies, prestige and other valued benefits. The draft Code of Conduct and the statement from TIGI, reflect an appreciation of the true nature and extent of corruption in Guyana; and the role of public officers who, by virtue of their high profile, are important tipping agents in the quest to dislodge the culture of corruption.
Indeed, it is because TIGI understands how difficult it is for societies to escape corruption traps that it issued its statement, and made the strong imputation of corruption to an action that is essentially political patronage.
The failure to embrace the spirit in which the statement was issued is not only inconsistent with the aforementioned draft Code of Conduct – according to which “Any official or staff who violates any provision of the code will be subject to disciplinary action, or termination of appointment/employment where warranted” – but it represents a missed opportunity to restore confidence in public institutions and offices.
We must take a deeper look at corruption to understand that although some practices have become so deeply entrenched that they seem normal, they constitute corruption. To this end, TIGI will launch an education programme that will begin by addressing institutional trust and campaign financing.
In response to President Granger, TIGI will make an exception to our policy of using what is publicly available and will write Minister Harmon to request a meeting and to send him a set of questions on the matter at hand. Without fear or favour, TIGI remains committed to working with the government, citizens and other organisations to foster transparency and to stamp out corruption.