By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Newly added candidate on the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) list, Clinton Urling was presented with various pieces of evidence relating to corruption in Guyana during his appearance on the radio programme ‘Hard Talk’ aired on 90.1 Love FM on Sunday, April 26.
The businessman was also called out for what can be described as his ‘double standards’ when it comes to the contentious issue of Local Government Elections (LGE).
Joining him on Hard Talk was APNU+AFC candidate, James Bond with Chris Chapwanya as the host, who both confronted him about his stance on LGE.
When shown evidence by Chapwanya about what he had said on government intentionally delaying LGE, Urling made it clear that he still holds the view that Guyana should have held LGE before general elections; however he is now confident that incumbent President, Donald Ramotar will keep his promise.
“My Party [PPP/C] is committed to that and I’m pretty confident that we’ll have Local Government Elections,” Urling said.
Chapwanya again reminded him of what he said during a previous Hard Talk episode that Ramotar promised LGE in 2011 but it did not materialize.
Additionally, Bond also refreshed Urling’s memory by pointing out that he [Urling] held the President responsible for not holding the elections and for withholding consent to two Bills related to the hosting of LGE.
Bond also reminded that Urling was on the picket line with the Opposition, calling for LGE but now he [Urling] is confident that there will be LGE.
“This shows you probably were not serious in the first instance when you tried to hold the government accountable,” Bond noted.
In response, Urling said, “I believe the President when he makes the commitment now that he is going to hold LGE. I am now part of the Party structure to ensure that I advocate for that to occur and happen…the President and all this talk about breaking promises, you got to look at the environment that prevailed and the context that prevailed post 2011.”
Meanwhile, Urling recently came in for heavy criticism after he joined the PPP/C Party, more so after he said “show me the evidence” when asked about the ruling Party harbouring and encouraging corruption.
Chapwanya pointed out to the former President and Chairman of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce (GCCI) and Blue Caps that on June 3, 2013, he said “we are putting the issue of corruption high on the agenda and we have talked about the need for effective institutes and the establishment and implementation of these institutes to ensure that corruption is minimized.”
But following his decision to join the PPP/C, Urling is on record as saying, “if you have the evidence and you show me the evidence maybe I may be persuaded to look at it but that’s all based on perception.”
When confronted with this, the businessman said the corruption argument should be based on facts.
“When it comes to this issue of corruption, you know people can make accusations against anyone and that happens not only with government that can happen with Private Sector and those allegations have to turn into imperial facts. You gotta do dialectics, you gotta argue on facts and not just to focus on anecdotal evidence.”
At this point, the host reminded him that he was in support of anecdotal evidence.
In response, Urling said, “I think the focus ideally should be what is our government or what is any government doing to curb corruption.”
He then requested Chapwanya to show him some evidence.
At this time, Chapwayna presented reports emanating from surveys that Urling conducted as Chairman of the GCCI, titled “Attitudinal Surveys” which revealed among other things that more than 70 percent of GCCI members believe there is rampant corruption.
Urling then pointed out that it was a “perception survey,” at which point, the host queried why conduct a survey of that nature if the results are meaningless.
But the former GCCI President maintained that it is just perception and that there needs to be proper institutions, such as the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) in place to tackle the issue of corruption.
He also pointed to the non-passage of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Terrorism Bill while noting that the Police Force needs to be more equipped to deal with the issue of bribery.
Bond, on the other hand, reminded Urling that the ruling PPP/C has admitted that there is corruption, bringing up the corruption discovered at the state owned, National Communications Network (NCN).
“Do you remember NCN, Mr Urling where there was found to be massive corruption? Has anyone been jailed or criminally prosecuted for corruption that occurred at NCN? For us to sit here and say you know what, oh show me the evidence; it’s like saying for rape to occur, there must be penetration, I must see penetration,” Bond said.
He further noted, “What this government has done is to deprive and I want to say deprive in the sense of strangulate the institutions that could detect corruption…in every single Ministry, there is corruption and if we’re going to say show me the evidence, then you’re not ready to assume leadership of this country.”
In response, Urling again called for proper institutions to deal with corruption, pointing out that the President cannot prosecute anyone.
“If a corrupt act occurs and you have the evidence…the President will not show up to court and prosecute, we have ensure we have a strong judiciary to ensure there’s proper prosecution; we have to ensure we have a Guyana Police Force who can investigate these white collar crimes.”
Bond then touched on the NCN report which revealed that Martin Goolsarran, NCN’s Production Manager, submitted an invoice in his personal name and then took the money and deposited it into his personal bank account.
“It is a corrupt and indecent act for the President to sit on a corrupt report without forwarding it to the Police Force.”
In response to this, Urling said, “We need solutions and ensure we have a strong judicial system in place.”