BY DEVINA SAMAROO
Some claim it’s reckless, insisting that the relationship between Government and the Private Sector will be damaged; others welcome the acknowledgement, underscoring that it is the only way the situation will be addressed – President David Granger’s bold assertion that corruption is more prevalent outside of Government has definitely generated mixed reactions from the Private Sector.
Representatives of the various Chambers of Commerce across the country have weighed in on the debate, with varying expressions on the extent to which corruption exists in the Private Sector and the appropriateness of the Head of State in making such pronouncements.
President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Vishnu Doerga subscribed to the views expressed by the Guyanese President, noting that problems cannot be fixed unless one firstly accepts that there is indeed a problem.
“It’s a step in the right direction, now that an acknowledgement was made that it exists… as long as our systems remain archaic and cumbersome, opportunities for corruption will always exist and they come from both sides of the fence,” Doerga affirmed.
The Linden Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (LCCI) President Kevin DeYounge also agreed with the proclamation that corruption is rampant in the Private Sector. “Corruption is everywhere,” he pointed out.
DeYounge explained that it would be unfair to determine where corruption is more widespread, given that there really are no statistics available to backup either assertion; however, he posited that it is reasonable to claim that corruption is present in both sectors.
“For me to say that it is entirely prevalent in the Private Sector, I would not be accurate because I really and truly don’t have the evidence… I would just say that corruption exists on both sides,” he noted.
On the other hand, Bartica Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vice President, Anthony Murray, had a completely different opinion.
“I really don’t see the merit in the President’s statement. I totally disagree,” Murray stated, noting that while corruption may be present in the Private Sector, it was inappropriate for the President to make such a public declaration, presumably in an effort to shield his Government.
According to Murray, statements of that nature can damage Private Sector relationships with Government. “It seems like he wants to cast the blame on us and it will drive a wedge between the Private Sector and the Government,” he stressed.
Nonetheless, he conceded that corruption is indeed present in the Private Sector, however, it was improper of the Head of State to target the Private Sector alone.
Likewise, the President of the Berbice Chambers of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Rajnauth Ramroop argued that corruption in the Private Sector is contingent on corruption in the Public Sector.
With regards to the situation in Berbice, Ramroop explained that owing to the lack of basic services in the county, the public will naturally “pass some money” to speed up some of the transactions.
President Granger, seemingly in an effort to exculpate his Government, declared that corruption in Guyana was more rampant outside of Government and as such, the usual anti-corruption critics of his Government should focus more on the Private Sector and non-State organisations, where he believed the scourge was raging.
He cautioned Guyanese against believing that corruption was confined to law enforcement agents and public servants, adding that while persons must remain vigilant against the abuse of power by the Government, they must also look at “the abuse of trust by the Private Sector”.