The Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI) has issued scathing assessments of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, essentially concluding that the coalition Government is facilitating and proliferating corruption in Guyana.
TIGI premised its arguments of the coalition’s corruption on the circumstances surrounding the “honorary” appointment of CEO of BK Industries, Brian Tiwari, as a Business Advisor to the Government and also Minister of State Joseph Harmon’s alleged actions with regard to his intervention in the work of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Harmon, in defence of his appointment of Tiwari, a known financial supporter of the coalition, said his appointment was “honorific” and 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.” It has been pointed out by analysts that it is common on US official business trips for business officials to accompany Government dignitaries so as to explore business opportunities. This was the case, for instance, in President Obama’s recent trip to Cuba.
According to TIGI, “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.” However, one Government official pointed out that it is making assertions that are unsubstantiated since Harmon never said “jobs and other privileges were up for sale” and only “honorific titles” were assigned for developing business for Guyana.
TIGI, in rejecting the state of affairs of the APNU/AFC Government, called for the Government to immediately release all its information on the instruments of appointments made by the Government and the criteria used by them to make such appointments, in addition, to the identity of the donors pre- and post-elections 2015 and the “amount and or value of their contributions”. The bodies reasoning for the disclosure is premised on the recognition that “the absence of transparency usually spawns authoritarianism and corruption.” TIGI remarked that it expected the APNU/AFC coalition which campaigned on the anti-corruption platform to immediately tackle the corruption they were so vigorously speaking out against once they took up office. “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,” the Institute said. Calls to Minister Harmon to provide a response to the damning remarks levied against the coalition Government proved unsuccessful. The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had expressed similar sentiments to that of TIGI, when they said that the APNU/AFC coalition is rewarding campaign financiers. Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo had outlined that the move was a “payback” for the financial and other support that APNU/AFC received. TIGI, which is headed by Reverend Compton Meerabux, opined in its release that the Minister’s action has “set a dark cloud over the operations of the current Government.”(Reprinted from today’s Guyana Times)