EYEWITNESS: Tall tales…

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…and integrity

If there was anything to that Pinocchio story, PM Moses Nagamootoo’s nose should be reaching further than his outstretched hands by now when it comes to the Integrity Commission he’s supposed to’ve launched over a year now. You remember the Integrity Commission, don’t you Dear Reader?? Yeah…that institution the PNC refused to participate in for a decade and a half because they said Bishop Randolph George, head of the Anglican Church, wasn’t a “fit and proper” person to head it!!

So since then, even though it was the law of the land that all Members of Parliament report their income and assets to the Integrity Commission, the PNC MP’s refused to do so. So, who cared they were breaking the law – certainly not them! But when they slinked into Government leading the “APNU/AFC coalition”, suddenly they became all hot and sweaty about a “Code of Conduct” for their MP’s and Ministers. NOT the Integrity Commission.

Raphael Trotman, then in charge of “Governance”, announced the Code would be built on a foundation of the Ten Principles of Public Life – accountability, dignity, diligence, duty, honour, integrity, loyalty, objectivity, responsibility and transparency!! That took months to compile!! During which time, of course, such “accountable” acts like collecting of private funds by a Minister of Government for constructing Jubilee Stadium slipped through the absent Code of Conduct net.

Then “Governance” was handed off to Nagamootoo (who should’ve had it in the first place, under the Cummingsburg Accord). What to do about the Code of Conduct? You couldn’t very well implement it when warehouses had to be set up by Government Ministers, Ministers had to get scholarships when they were on their jobs and so on. But Nagamootoo – with 50 years of experience at this sort of thing – came to the rescue!!

Like Christopher Columbus of yore, he discovered the Integrity Commission to which he would yoke the Code to that Commission. But hold it! That needed legislation to mesh the institutions. So the Code was passed to the Parliamentary Drafting office for “Drafting” – NOT stalling! And that’s where it stood while mega pharma contracts were hived off illegally to foreign companies who built arches and donated fridges…and suchlike.

But now, two years later, Nagamootoo glided down from the mountain top and burning bush and announced the combined “Code of Conduct and Integrity Commission” is nigh upon us! While he didn’t have two engraved stone tablets, he assured us it will address, “issues of bribes, discrimination, gifts, conflict of interest, use of official influence, handling of classified information, use of public property, sexual misconduct and entertainment.”

Does “use of official influence” exclude helping sons-in-law?

…at Culture Ministry

Over the last couple of hundred years, there’s been an ongoing debate about what’s usually purveyed as “culture”, is actually elitist “high culture”. There’s since been a sustained movement to rope in the more mass-based “culture of the people” into the swing of things. In Guyana, it seems the Culture Department in the Education Ministry has taken its mandate rather seriously. This was first exhibited at the Jubilee celebrations when the Ministry – under the direct direction of its Minister – introduced the “culture of confusion” that permeates every Guyanese mass event – from weddings to bus parks.

At the ongoing Public Account Committee’s (PAC’s) hearings we now see the mass “culture of corruption” has also been taken up by the Culture Department of the Ministry. Quite blithely, the PS announced that somehow the employment of 50 persons slipped off the radar when it came to following the proper hiring procedures. But of course, it didn’t…really.

 They just introduced the “common touch” of hiring “we own” into the Ministry!

…and fishy stories

Once again, we’re hearing that tilapia will be the salvation of GuySuCo. Didn’t Burnham and the PNC try this back in the day when they were trying to make sugar workers redundant?

 That’s when the GNS failed to break GAWU’s 177-day “recognition” strike!!

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