President defends ‘honorific’ appointments of political supporters
– says political patronage not practiced by Govt
By Devina Samaroo
(Guyana Times): In light of mounting criticisms and concerns over the level of transparency and accountability provided by the Administration, has sought to assure that political patronage and widespread corruption are all practices of the past as they are currently being negated by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) government.
Both the APNU and AFC have a long history of wasting no time in calling out and condemning the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration for the slightest of slipups or errors of judgment made during their time in power.
With tables turned, the common perception seems to be that the APNU/AFC coalition is none the wiser as recent revelations including the “honorific” appointments of over 30 coalition supporters by government have only confirmed the belief that political patronage, nepotism and pervasive corruption are alive and thriving within the new administration which had campaigned on the need for change and better governance.
Appearing on the weekly television podcast ‘The Public Interest’, the Head of State was grilled on several recent developments that have propelled his administration into bad light and about his perceived nonchalant attitude towards the occurrences which have sparked rampant public outrage even among its own support base.
President Granger was prompted to comment on the familiar system whereby in order to “get something” one must “know someone”.
While not directing his response to any situation in particular, he stressed that persons should not be appointed because they are a friend of a politician or because they have done a political favour and in this regard, Granger convolutedly indicated his administration is not guilty of this practice.
“I would expect that in the fullness of time that will be diminished and decisions will be made purely on the basis of objective criteria,” he stated.
However in the same breath, President Granger posited that the appointment of over 30 coalition supporters as “honorific” advisors are not acts of political patronage and that they should not be labelled as corruption.
He explained that there are people in the diaspora who supported the coalition’s campaign to executive office who demanded recognition for their contribution after they won the elections.
“That was when the certificate was invented and nearly three dozen were given out and that was why the term ‘honorific’ was used because it was simply a certificate of honouring them for their contribution,” the President stated.
He then added that, “It is not a corrupt practice.”
But it was quickly pointed out that the coalition is using its power in government to award persons who supported a political party.
On that note, asked whether he does not believe there is a difference between a political party and the government, the President advanced to clarify his statements and further justify the appointments of the “honorific advisors”.
In his explanation, the President gave the impression that nothing is amiss with the appointments since the individuals appointed will have no direct influence in policies and decisions made by the government.
“What I am saying is that these awards are ‘honorific’ and they were not meant to influence government policy; and as far as I can see, they did not have a role in directing government, they are not employees of the government,” he stated.
He furthered explained that there is an overwhelming amount of people in the diaspora seeking opportunities for investment in Guyana; however Business Minister Dominic Gaskin would be unable to facilitate meetings with every person interested in having such discussions.
As a result he said, those persons who were political engaged in the campaign are now being used as “ad hoc” facilitators.
In this regard, the President said government is moving smoothly in promoting investment opportunities in the diaspora.
Moreover, it was also drawn to the Head of State’s attention that the majority of the public strongly believe that government is now cozying up to situations they would have ardently condemned in the past.
In response, President Granger made it clear he is unaware of instances where government has cozied up to any illegality.