Civil Society must also be held accountable – Min Teixeira at anti-corruption conference

In strengthening Guyana’s anti-corruption framework, and ensuring that these measures are enforced nationwide, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira said civil society groups must be held to the same standards as everyone else.

Minister Teixeira was at the time responding to a question on the challenges faced by lawmakers in holding civil society accountable, on day two of the 9th Annual Conference of the Commonwealth Caribbean Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies.

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira

“One of the things, we are sensitive to in Guyana is that we are not trying to knock out civil society [groups] or make them unable to function, or in any way limit their rights… However, we are unapologetic in saying that they must be held accountable, like everybody else,” the minister said.

The parliamentary affairs minister highlighted that the integrity commission is responsible for the pursuit of transparency and honesty in public office or public life. Guyana has the Friendly Societies Act which governs the operations of NGOs.

The Friendly Societies Act enables the Director of Friendly Societies, who falls under the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, to support the smooth functioning of those organisations through enhanced accountability to the public.

“We have to look at how do we amend those to deal with the reality today, and how do we look at the audited reports which are required by the civil society, once they’re registered,” she said.

Further, another challenge in amending anti-corruption legislation to include civil society groups, is that many of these organisations are not registered, but continue to receive foreign funding.

This, in many cases, allows them to dodge many of the accountability measures required of civil society organisations.

“Anti-corruption requires all of us to be equal in the fight against corruption. It can’t be that we set the standards for government but no standards for civil society or other people. The mechanism for civil society accountability has to be done. I believe by looking at what other laws or models in other countries look at regulating their civil society.” Minister Teixeira added.