Guyana politicians family and friends are fleecing the taxpayers
In Guyana the family and friends of the ruling PPP government are getting huge multimillion dollar contracts at the expense of taxpayers.
For Integrity in Government
T&T’s Minister of Planning Economic and Social Restructuring and Gender Affairs, Senator Mary King, was dismissed from her offices last Tuesday by President George Maxwell Richards, “in accordance with the advice of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.” The dismissal came just two weeks before the first anniversary of the People’s Partnership coalition government. King is a member of the Congress of the People (COP), and was recommended for appointment by that party.
Why this event should be of more than passing interest to Guyanese is that the dismissal was the consequence of a report in T&T’s Sunday Express, that the Minister had ignored a conflict of interest in not revealing that a contract awarded by her Ministry went to a company in which she was a principal. As a matter of fact, the company was totally owned by the Minister, her husband and her son. But of even greater relevance to our Guyanese context is the sequence of events that led to the Minister’s dismissal.
After the Express’ expose ran last weekend, the PM immediately asked her Attorney General (AG) “to review the facts and circumstances surrounding the award of the captioned contract …to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie breach on the part of the Minister in respect of her obligations under the Integrity in Public Life Act Chap 22.01 of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago.” The AG submitted his report on Tuesday morning, concluding after reviewing the documentation and evidence presented that, “The Minister acted improperly in failing to disclose her interest and disqualify herself from the entire process.”
The PM reviewed the report and directly recommended to the President that the Minister be dismissed. She informed the nation: “I think it will serve as a warning and a wake-up call to every member of the Cabinet who is interested in serving the people and doing so with transparency and accountability. It will be a lesson to all of us.”
The dismissed Minister had been from her coalition partner COP, and as early as Monday night that party had called on King to step down pending the AG’s investigations. After the dismissal, the party said they had hoped the PM would have acted after an investigation by the Integrity Commission -recommended by the AG in his report and requested by the dismissed Minister. But its leader Winston Dookeran concluded: “we must respect the Prime Minister’s responsibility to maintain the integrity of the party and the Government.”
We compare this quick and united action by the T&T coalition government to fight corruption in public office and demonstrate publicly that it will not be tolerated, with our government’s studied refusal to even acknowledge that such corruption exists. There is not enough space in this space allocated for editorials to even skim the top of instances of corruption that have been identified with our governmental officials. We will only mention the infamous “Dolphin Scandal”, noted not just for its venality and greed, but the exploitation of a poor endangered mammal that our country has sworn to protect. And not a single instance can be cited where a “big one” has been even reprimanded: at the very best some poor underlings had to take the fall.
We compare also, the insistence of our government to blame the media when the latter points out instances of possible corruption. Rather than investigate the allegations and take appropriate action, our government would rather shoot the messenger. Corruption is a cancer that gnaws at the sinews of a society in which it is allowed to spread unchecked. Corruption undermines public trust in the state, and especially the government that is elected to manage that state on behalf of all the people.
We are at the cusp of general elections, where there is a genuine opportunity for our electorate to insist that the status quo will be tolerated no longer – especially as it pertains to corruption. The parties must not only condemn corruption: they must indicate very specifically what steps they will take – within a stated time frame – to address this scourge.