Many governments around the world are experiencing an increase in corruption as they enter the second year of their 5-year term because, at that point, those politicians and officials who intend to commit wrongdoing have “learned the tricks of the trade” and have become bold and shameless by carrying illegal activities. This happened from the second year of the APNU / AFC government. The Kaieteur News and the Stabroek News have published numerous articles and letters on actual or possible corruption between 2015 and 2020 such as:  the government-owned asphalt plant scam in Garden of Eden where some private contractors got huge discount prices, and a non-existent Trinidad and Tobago company was paid $ 9.8 million;  at the Ministry of Public Health, 300 trucks of expired drugs worth GUY 10 billion had to be dumped;  at the Guyana Revenue Authority, some of the major oil importers abused tax exemption letters with alleged support from some officials;  at the Environmental Protection Agency, a 20-year environmental permit was illegally granted to Exxon and the High Court had to rule that the law only allowed a 5-year permit;  large contracts were awarded to local and foreign construction companies with a history of non-completion of government-awarded projects on time and on cost.
The new PPP / C government is now entering its second year and it is of great concern that Guyana continues on the same path. Here are some examples.  Very senior officials expressed a loss of memory on the award of the huge contracts for the oil and gas blocks of Canje and Kaieteur.  The actual owners of these blocks have not been disclosed and the review of the Payara oil project has not been released.  A new company, the owner of which is linked to a very senior official, has been given infrastructure contracts.  Some supply offers have been withdrawn and resubmitted multiple times.  Some contracts were awarded to unqualified people with political connections.  Some political candidates were hired primarily on the basis of party loyalty and not also on merit, that is, their integrity, ability, talent, effort and achievement. It is difficult to detect and prove corruption. Based on international experiences, here are some “red flags” that will help us detect corruption.  A purchase order or contract is awarded to a particular supplier or contractor who does not have the required experience, facilities and resources.  Some legal requirements and regulations are bypassed.  The goods and services purchased are not necessary or appropriate for the proper functioning of the institution.  The goods or services are not delivered or are of inferior quality.  There is no documentation to support the unusually high fees, commissions and other expenses.  The supplier or contractor urgently requests advance cash payments.  A supplier or contractor wants payments to be made to a person or business other than their own.  There are close ties or ties (through family members, relatives, friends and associates) between a particular official / employee and a supplier or contractor who insists that other members staff are not present at meetings to discuss the contract or purchase order.  Some qualified suppliers and contractors are not chosen because of their race / ethnicity, gender, age or class.  Travel and hospitality expenses are not supported by receipts and other supporting documents.
All the staff of a public institution, regardless of their responsibilities, must be trained to detect and resist any type of wrongdoing in the awarding of contracts and purchase orders. Today anyone can go on the internet and access free e-learning courses that teach how to resist and minimize corrupt behavior by ensuring that the following procedures are implemented.  Before a purchase order or contract is signed, ask questions and check the supplier or contractor to verify that he / she has a proven track record and the resources and experience to deliver the goods and services.  No one should have control over the choice of supplier or contractor. More than one person should be involved in decision making and signing purchase orders and contracts.  Regular audits should be carried out to verify that the appropriate goods and services have been received and that they are not of inferior quality.  All members of a public institution (Board of Directors, Commissions, senior executives, supervisors and employees) must report a potential conflict of interest (family, relative, friend or associate) so that they do not participate in the decision-making process .  Establish an official ledger to track all travel, hospitality, gifts, donations and sponsorships received by employees from suppliers and contractors.  Create a system to continuously monitor, evaluate, learn and adjust measures to end corruption and other types of corrupt behavior.
Why should we do this? It is in the best interests of each of us and our families. Corruption is one of the most egregious expressions of inequality. Less corruption means that more financial and physical resources would be available for higher salaries and other benefits. Second, all Guyanese, especially the poor and vulnerable, would benefit from expanded and improved programs in health, education and other services. Third, in the Christian Bible, the Hindu Bhagwat Gita, and the Islamic Qur’an, corrupt practices are strongly condemned. Corruption is a national problem practiced by some politicians and officials, regardless of political party, ethnicity, gender, age or class. No less than the United States Embassy in Georgetown has publicly observed that two of the top five national shortcomings in Guyana are corruption and weak enforcement of corruption laws. So how come our political leaders are only prepared to speak out and act against the corrupt practices of their political competitors, but not against their own political associates, friends and families? How come many political parties and public institutions do not have ‘living’ anti-corruption cultures with clear guidelines and standard operating procedures so that everyone knows what behavior is acceptable and what is not. is not ?
Leaders at national, regional and local levels, starting with ministers, board of directors, commissioners, managers, supervisors to grassroots, must avoid hypocrisy and prove that they really believe in the laws anti-corruption by “doing what they preach” and imposing sanctions, without fear or favor, when a member of their party or institution, including at senior levels, engages in corruption. Speaking and reporting (denouncing) the corruption is acceptable and should become a normal way of doing things The priority of the Parliament’s public accounts committee should be to promote the passage of the existing bill to reward whistleblowers and protect them from unwarranted retaliation. The perception of hypocrisy in the fight against corruption is a powerful instrument that could make or break a government. It happened in the elections of 2020. In the elections nat 2025, many citizens may not go to vote. Why? They do not want their votes wasted on a political party that does not sanction all corrupt politicians and officials, regardless of their political stripe or ethnicity.
Geoffroy Da Silva