Edghill defends govt’s anti-corruption efforts

Last Updated on Saturday, 1 June 2013, 21:24 by GxMedia

Government MP Juan Edghill Thursday night sought to debunk opposition claims that the administration was not doing enough to combat corruption.

In his contribution to the budget debate the Minister within the Ministry of Finance said the government had put measures in place to counter corruption.

“Among our Members of Parliament and Cabinet we have a Code of Conduct and a Code of Ethics. Mr. Speaker, at the Ministry of Finance we have moved forward and we have now established what is called an internal audit division,” Edghill said.

That division, he added, was staffed by an audit manager, four audit supervisors and nine auditors.

“And it is interesting to note sir, that there is a permanent presence of the Auditor General’s office at the Ministry of Finance. The Auditor General is not just checking after the fact, while the transaction is taking place the Auditor General is present along with the internal auditing section,” Edghill stated.

He added that there had been significant legislative reforms over the years to strengthen the management of public finances and institutions and singled out the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA), the Procurement Act, the Audit Act and their accompanying regulations as some examples.

In the area of public procurement Edghill said the Tender Board insisted on the use of open tendering with some 80 percent of public-funded projects subjected to that process and work was underway to strengthen it.

The opposition has long criticised the government’s anti-corruption efforts with charges of widespread nepotism coming almost daily. The parties have also called for the urgent establishment of the Public Procurement Commission as outlined in the constitution. APNU’s Shadow Minister of Finance Carl Greenidge in reacting to the reading of the budget on Tuesday said it ignored public concerns about discrimination and corruption.

Edghill Thursday night acknowledged that everything was not perfect and added that the government was providing the framework to ensure that the systems worked in keeping with the law.

“Mr. Speaker, if every time a contractor or a bidder don’t get a contract and we have politicians and lobbyists splashing the front pages of the papers saying corruption without providing the evidence we have a problem in Guyana because that is a form of corruption,” the minister declared amidst heckling throughout his presentation.

Anti-corruption agency Transparency International ranked Guyana at 133 out of 176 countries with a score of 28 out of 100 in its 2012 Corruption Perception Index. The ranking represented one place climb from the previous year’s position.

The Guyana government for its part has said the report lacks credibility and over the years it has questioned the indices used to determine the rankings.