By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Opposition Parliamentarian Joseph Harmon has expressed disappointment in what he described as an environment which allows for government ministers and other public officials to amass wealth in excess of their capacity to earn, without being held accountable.
He has linked the existence of such an environment to the currently ‘dysfunctional Integrity Commission’, as he described it. Public Officials, including Government Ministers are mandated to report annually to the Commission on their assets and in some instances their liabilities.
However, according to Harmon the Commission is simply not functioning. He said even while functioning, it lacked, significantly so, the investigative capacity to go after information which indicated that Public Officials were accumulating wealth as a direct result of corrupt practices.
The Opposition MP’s comments come one day after General Secretary of the ruling Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) and Security Minister Clement Rohee went out on a limb to defend the acquisition of Former President Bharat Jagdeo and his Minister Colleague Robert Persaud’s assets.
Rohee in the two gentlemen’s defense stated that he refused to be dragged into the realm of speculation as he vouched that their financial and other wealth were honestly earned.
Harmon through his comments seems to believe otherwise. He lamented that there was dire need for an independent Integrity Commission while pointing to a similar body in Trinidad and Tobago and the work it is doing in holding public officials accountable.
“Not only Ministers, there are others in public offices that are amassing wealth quietly and I repeat there is the need for a firm, independent well-resourced Integrity Commission to deal with these issues.”
The MP in making his point further argued that corruption among public officials is well known and reported, adding that there are however hardly any arrest or prosecution.
“Some people don’t see the unlawful acquisition of wealth as corruption, they see it as the price of doing business in Guyana and has no moral turpitude… as a nation I believe we have to set high standards and ensure constitutional entities that were set up to ensure good governance be made to function independently.”
Rohee had called on the Leader of the Opposition David Granger to issue a public apology for statements carried in the March 17 edition of the Kaietuer News and attributed to him under the headline: “Corruption festered by low Public Servants morale – Granger.”
Rohee said the Party takes strong objection to the statements and insinuations made against public officials, the vast majority of whom served the people of this country with high levels of dedication, competence and professionalism.
“No less disrespectful is the attempt by Granger to draw a link between the salaries paid to public servants and the standard of professionalism that currently exists in the public service.”
He reiterated the administration’s concern however; over whatever little corruption there may be that exist.