crime, inadequate infrastructure remain barriers to investment
corruption discourages investments, undermines development
The fact that corruption indices continue to rank Guyana with only minor improvements, crime and inadequate infrastructure has been cited by the US State Department’s 2018 investment climate statements as problems Guyana has to deal with.
According to the State Department in its assessment of the situation, allegations of corruption continue to trouble Guyana. It cited the Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perception Index, which ranked Guyana at 91 out of 180 countries. To make matters worse, Guyana has since dropped to 93rd position in TI’s latest report.
There are widespread concerns about inefficiencies and corruption regarding the awarding of contracts, particularly with respect to concerns of collusion and non-transparency. In his annual report, the Auditor General had noted continuous disregard for the procedures, rules, and the laws that govern public procurement systems,” the State Department said.
“The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 identified inefficient Government bureaucracy as the largest obstacle to doing business in Guyana, followed by corruption. Corruption discourages potential foreign direct investments and foreign investors, and it also undermines economic development and growth,” the analysis advised.
According to the TI index, Guyana fell by one spot to the 93rd position out of 180 countries. The index placed Guyana’s corruption perception score at 37 to tie with Gambia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Mongolia and Panama.
The highest ranked Caribbean country was The Bahamas at 29th place and a score of 65. It is followed by Barbados, which received a score of 68 for being anti-corruption. The next Caribbean country is St Vincent and the Grenadines, which was ranked at 41 with a score of 58.
The top ranked countries on the list were Denmark at number one, then New Zealand at number two. The United States of America was ranked at 71, with a score of 22.
Last year, Guyana scored 38 when it ranked 91 out of all the countries reviewed. The index came at a time when much was said about the Auditor General’s 2017 report and the sole sourcing of contracts.
This includes the Public Procurement Commission investigating and red-flagging the sole sourcing of the Demerara River bridge feasibility study. The contract in question was awarded to Dutch company, LievenseCSO, for a feasibility study into the new Demerara River bridge crossing.
The parliamentary Opposition had requested that the Public Procurement Commission investigate the award of the $148 million sole sourced contract.
In its report on the matter, the Commission flagged Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson for requesting from Cabinet that the contract be sole sourced, instead of being processed through the Procurement Board as the law says should be done.
After agitation from the parliamentary Opposition, the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) had begun investigating the contract award. Right from the start, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had stressed the need for the Unit to avoid showing favouritism to Patterson, particularly at a time when Opposition politicians were being brought into SOCU for questioning on other matters.
SOCU has since said it completed its investigation into the sole sourced feasibility study contract, with the unit’s head, Assistant Police Commissioner Sydney James confirming that the file has been in the hands of the Police Legal Adviser since last year.
Meanwhile, Patterson himself told Guyana Times recently that SOCU has concluded its investigations but he is uncertain of the findings. The Minister had added that the project for the new bridge is expected to come up at the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) shortly.
According to him, “That is supposed to be a public-private partnership. It’s being piloted at the moment, reviewed by the public-private unit under the Ministry of Finance with the help from the [Caribbean Development Bank] CDB and obviously that will go to tender shortly.”