DR. SAM Sittlington, the British former adviser to SOCU, in an invited comment to Kaieteur News on the issue of grand corruption, is reported to have said that from his experience working with SOCU and interacting with other crime-fighting agents, key records that are needed to support the allegations of corruption are either locked away, burnt or missing. I am a medical doctor by training, hence, by no stretch of my academic learning would I consider myself a specialist in this area. As a result, to compose this letter, I did some research and reading to develop a better, but in no way specialist understanding of it.
In Guyana, the nebulous term corruption is frequently used. The fact is that corruption is just an umbrella and ambiguous term used by many, since corruption can present itself in many forms. For example, the police officer who may take a small bribe to turn a blind eye to a crime isn’t in any shape or form grand corruption. For all intents and purposes, that is petty corruption. On the other hand, grand corruption can be looked at as corruption occurring at the highest levels of government, which has implications politically, legally and economically. Such corruption is commonly in countries with authoritarian governments, but also in those without adequate policing of corruption. To explore this in a little more detail, I will attempt to explain with my understanding of the subject matter, the concept we call government.
In Guyana, like most countries, the government is divided into legislative, executive and judicial branches. In the ideal world, these branches should work independently with mutual oversight to reduce the chance of corruption. Basically, it is like three brothers keeping an eye on each other to ensure the cookie jar is not violated. Grand corruption also comes under the umbrella term white collar crimes. White collar crimes are notoriously difficult to successfully prosecute because of the nature of the perpetrators who are invariably highly intelligent, very powerful, and know how to conceal the evidence. Therefore, investigation of grand corruption requires specialist investigators that are not readily available in most Third World countries, including Guyana.
Even in First World countries like Britain, where all of the skills are available, investigating and successfully prosecuting grand corruption is very difficult. In Third World countries like Guyana, this is well nigh impossible, since the evidence is either locked away, burnt or missing as alluded to by Dr. Sittlington, along with the absence of the requisite investigatory personnel. As a result, what Dr. Sittlington was describing is not unique to Guyana. So, that Jagdeo cockily boast of no successful prosecution of corruption does not mean the crimes were not committed. To use the common cliche, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The proceeds of corruption are there for all to see. Irfaan Ali’s mansion and swimming pool after being a Government minister for only two years. Jagdeo’s Hollywood-type mansion. The mansions of former PPP ministers in Pradoville 1 and 2. And many more. This is the face of corruption. They live in mansions with swimming pools, sport bars and gyms, while you live in shacks in shantytowns.
As a result, grand corruption should concern us all, since it will impact all of us. When fraudulent ministers and presidents siphon off and hide billions of dollars in secret bank accounts, then that is billions that could have been spent to build roads, schools, and bridges, and to provide a meal for less fortunate kids in school, to build hospitals, to invest in hospital services, to employ more healthcare professionals, to buy desperately needed pharmaceuticals, to provide wage increases for staff etc.
No government is perfect. All countries will have some degree of corruption. The key is to take steps to address and minimise it, e.g money laundering laws that this Government introduced. President Granger’s Government, like all governments the world over, is not perfect. Having said that, the evidence is there for all to see, on the steps this government has taken to address the cancer of grand corruption which was pervasive under the PPP Government. Under this government, Guyana has risen to it’s highest ranking on the corruption index, moving from the mid- 130s to the mid-90s in four years; a record climb since the corruption index was first introduced. Also, the international community is glowing in the praises of Mr. Granger on his government’s work to reduce corruption.
Even the EU is getting in on the act, and has moved Guyana from the blacklisted countries. The product of this reduced corruption is being enjoyed by you. Public servants have recently enjoyed a 75% increase in their wages. Minimum wage has nearly doubled in four years. A record number of infrastructure projects which I will address later. The hard fact is that under the PPP, the corrupt ministers were taking your money out of your pockets and bank accounts.
It is for this reason that I will now outline the second instalment of 20 projects completed by this Government in 2019. My first instalment covered regions 1&2. This instalment will cover regions 3&4. Remember our magic number is 100 completed projects in 2019. It is my wish that you peruse them to determine if the APNU-AFC Government is working for the whole of Guyana with everyone having a slice of the small pie.
Second 20 completed projects in 2019
21. New sea defence to protect Leguan($627M) 22. Over 8,000 lots to be handed over to local authorities 23. Massive roadworks in Wakenaam($60M) 24. Land and Surveys Office for Region 3 ($37M) 25. Hubu water woes over($2M) 26. Parika drainage canal excavated($11M) 27. Pump station to alleviate flooding at Den Amstel(230M) 28. Police Station for La Parfaite Harmonie($65M) 29. Schoonord Learning Centre ($28.5M) 30. Westminster Secondary, a flagship institution for Region Three ($1Billion) 31. Security Command Centre ($84M) 32. New central supply medical bond ($539M) 33. Annex for Diamond MMU($161M) 34. Dormitory for Tertiary Hinterland students open ($186M) 35. CPCE science lab upgrade($50M) 36. Golden Grove Secondary overhaul($170M) 37. E-library at North Georgetown Secondary($10.5M) 38. Children and family centre to protect the vulnerable($220M) 39. Potable water for Timehri North($43M) 40. New homes for Broad/Lambert street residents
I will repeat. Corrupt politicians take monies out of your bank account and pocket. They deprive your family and your kids. It is critical that you factor this into your equation when casting your ballot. The choice is as clear as day. Do you wish to have another corrupt PPP government or an APNU-AFC government that will continue to drain the swamp of PPP corruption?
Dr. Mark Devonish MBBS MSc Med. Ed FRCP(Edin) FRCP(UK) Consultant Acute Medicine Nottingham University Hospital UK
LINK ORIGINAL: Guyana Chronicle