Any ef­fort to fight cor­rup­tion must be free from po­lit­i­cal con­trol

Stabroek News - - EDITORIAL -

Dear Ed­i­tor, It was the APNU and AFC be­fore the 2011 elec­tions and again as coali­tion part­ners while in full cam­paign mode be­fore the May 2015 elec­tion, which saw a jumbie be­hind ev­ery bush and screamed cor­rup­tion. To­day, cor­rup­tion is not about per­cep­tion but it is real. This is com­pounded by the man­i­fest acts of cover-up by the ex­ec­u­tives and their cul­ture of nondis­clo­sure or ma­nip­u­la­tion of in­for­ma­tion, and non-an­swers to ques­tions raised by MPs dur­ing de­lib­er­a­tions in the Na­tional Assem­bly.

I wel­come with bated breath the dis­clo­sure in sec­tions of the me­dia on 12th Septem­ber, 2017, which read ‘UN ex­pert has plans to tackle cor­rup­tion, drugs and to spear­head anti-cor­rup­tion projects here’. The UN in­clud­ing the UNODC and its per­son­nel like all other in­ter­na­tional agen­cies will con­tinue to play sig­nif­i­cant roles in Guyana. But I cau­tion th­ese ex­perts and in­ter­na­tional agen­cies that they must not be used as a fig leaf.

Any ef­fort to fight cor­rup­tion must be free from po­lit­i­cal con­trol, if not, those ef­forts will be mis­di­rected to shake down po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents and pro­tect al­lies. The anti-cor­rup­tion fight must be led by ac­tors out­side of those who ex­er­cise dis­cre­tionary, co­er­cive, or administrative pow­ers. Our cur­rent At­tor­ney Gen­eral is not in any po­si­tion to lead a fight against cor­rup­tion. The Spe­cial Or­ga­nized Crime Unit (SOCU), which is a de­part­ment of the Guyana Po­lice Force that was es­tab­lished to sup­port and strengthen the in­ves­tiga­tive ca­pac­ity of the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Unit (FIU) has now been politi­cized and used as a tool to tar­get po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents. It is lack­ing in op­er­a­tional in­de­pen­dence. Guyanese must re­mem­ber that Mr Sit­tling­ton, Bri­tish ex­pert as­signed to the Guyana Po­lice Force/SOCU was phys­i­cally present when SOCU sought to ar­rest Op­po­si­tion Leader Bhar­rat Jagdeo at his of­fice.

This cur­rent ini­tia­tive by the UN ex­pert must not be hi­jacked by the po­lit­i­cal cir­cus be­ing led by the cur­rent At­tor­ney Gen­eral. The SARU and now SARA, is an­other po­lit­i­cal out­fit mas­querad­ing un­der the guise of the re­cov­ery of state as­sets. There have been no in­ves­ti­ga­tions by SARA into the no­to­ri­ous Sus­sex Street Bond scan­dal, the $632 mil­lion drugs pro­cure­ment scan­dal, and the $1.3 bil­lion from the Trea­sury for the con­struc­tion with­out any pro­cure­ment process of the now in­fa­mous D’Ur­ban Ju­bilee Park at Homestretch Av­enue.

Would the At­tor­ney Gen­eral speak to the is­sue of $500,000 be­ing spent on a monthly rental for a home for a govern­ment min­is­ter? Would the SARA or SOCU go af­ter the in­sider trad­ing, and the pol­icy of sole sourc­ing of con­tracts that favours friends and fi­nanciers of the coali­tion govern­ment?

There­fore, the pho­to­graph and the head­line and state­ments by cred­i­ble in­ter­na­tional part­ners must not be mis­con­strued to sug­gest that all is well with this cur­rent govern­ment. I strongly call upon the United Na­tions’ ex­perts, in­ter­na­tional agen­cies, or­ga­ni­za­tions of in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion not to al­low them­selves or the names of dis­tin­guished of­fi­cials as­so­ci­ated with them, to be used as the clean sheet to dec­o­rate a de­filed bed. The APNU+AFC should stop hid­ing and face the light of scru­tiny, trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity. They should an­swer the peo­ple’s ques­tions. Yours faith­fully, Juan Edghill, MP PPP/C

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