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Govt boycotts International Anti-Corruption Day March

A group of anti-corruption activists marching down High Street, Kingston to Parliament Building

Transparency Institute of Guyana Incorporated (TIGI) on Monday- International Anti-Corruption Day- organised a march through the streets of Georgetown to demand that government does more to combat the scourge.

Notably absent were representatives of the Guyana government which has consistently shrugged off criticisms and low Corruption Perception ratings by TIGI and Transparency International. The government did not issue any official statement to mark the day either.

TIGI President, Anand Goolsarran expressed disappointment that no government representative was present and suggested that the Donald Ramotar administration gave lip service to a recent United Nations-organised Conference of Parties on corruption meeting held in Panama two weeks ago.

“If the government is absent then it doesn’t send a good signal that they are supporting the Convention that they have signed on to,” he said.

Guyana acceded to the UN Convention Against Corruption in 2008. The United Nations General Assembly in October 2003 designated 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day, to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the Convention in combating and preventing it.  The Convention entered into force in December 2005.

The TIGI President reiterated that his civil society organisation was prepared to partner with government to assist in reducing corruption. “If you decide to see us as your enemies then that that’s their problem not ours.

We are prepared to work in partnership with the government because we recognise government alone cannot fight corruption because it is a countrywide problem,” he said.

Goolsarran, a former Auditor General of Guyana, said when reference is made to corruption it is not about the government but about the country as a whole.

Among the estimated 35 persons present were TIGI executives, General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis; Executive member of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Joseph Harmon; Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan and Red Thread Executive Member, Karen De Souza.

Also present was the publisher of Kaieteur News, Glen Lall and a group of grassroots persons from the Charlestown area with ties to that newspaper.

The Guyana government has called on TIGI and TI to release its methodology and interviewees in surveys that were used by the global body to rank the country 27th out of 100 points globally and 28th out of 32 countries in the Americas.

The General Assembly also in 2003 adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption and requested that the Secretary-General designate the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as secretariat for the Convention’s Conference of States Parties.

Following is the full text of a message for International Anti-Corruption Day by United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon:

Corruption suppresses economic growth by driving up costs, and undermines the sustainable management of the environment and natural resources.  It breaches fundamental human rights, exacerbates poverty and increases inequality by diverting funds from health care, education and other essential services.  The malignant effects of corruption are felt by billions of people everywhere.  It is driven by and results in criminal activity, malfunctioning state institutions and weak governance. 

Good governance is critical for sustainable development, and vital in combating organized crime.  Every link in the trafficking chain is vulnerable to corruption, from the bribes paid to corrupt officials by dealers in arms and drugs to the fraudulent permits and licenses used to facilitate the illicit trade in natural resources. 

Corruption is also rife in the world of sport and business, and in public procurement processes.  In the last decade, the private sector has increasingly recognized its role in fighting corruption.  A Call to Action launched by the United Nations Global Compact and partners is mobilizing businesses and Governments to engage in transparent procurement.  Guidelines are also being developed to help business fight corruption in sport sponsorship and hospitality.

The UN is strongly committed to fulfilling its own obligations.  Operating in some of the world’s most unstable environments, the UN faces multifaceted corruption risks that can undermine our efforts to advance development, peace and human rights.  We have developed a robust system of internal controls and continue to remain vigilant and work hard to set an example of integrity.

Corruption is a barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and needs to be taken into account in defining and implementing a robust post-2015 development agenda.  The UN Convention against Corruption, adopted 10 years ago, is the paramount global framework for preventing and combating corruption.  Full implementation depends crucially on effective prevention, law enforcement, international cooperation and asset recovery.  On this International Anti-Corruption Day, I urge Governments, the private sector and civil society to take a collective stand against this complex social, political and economic disease that affects all countries.  To achieve an equitable, inclusive and more prosperous future for all, we must foster a culture of integrity, transparency, accountability and good governance.