Gov’t continues to put systems in place to ensure transparency- Minister Ramjattan
GUYANA, GINA, Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan has reiterated that the government is doing its part to ensure that there is transparency in the operations of its agencies.
The Minister pointed out that the government, since taking office in 2015, has conducted a total of 49 forensic audits. These assessments were conducted in the Ministries and a number of other public agencies. Minister Khemraj noted that Cabinet decided that those forensic audits that require actions to be taken must be undertaken by the Boards of those agencies.
Additionally, the Minister said that the government, in keeping with its obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (IACAC), introduced the State Asset Recovery Bill. The Minister said the Bill “provides for a civil proceeding process that seeks to recover assets looted from the State by someone’s unlawful conduct… So like the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act of 2009 with the relevant amendments in 2016, this State Asset Recovery Bill of 2017 will fill another gap in our anti-corruption legislative landscape.”
The Bill was on the Order Paper for debate at the March 9 sitting of the National Assembly but was postponed. However, at a recent post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon assured that the government will be ready to debate the Bill when it comes up again in the National Assembly.
The Bill introduces legislation to combat unlawful conduct and corrupt practices in relation to property and other assets owned by the State, or in which the State has an interest. In this context, the Bill provides for the establishment of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) which has as its primary function, the civil recovery of state property.
Minister Ramjattan also pointed out that Cabinet is in the process of fine-tuning the amendments of the Integrity Commission Act. The act according to the Minister will be expanded to include the ‘Ten Principles of Public Life’. These include Accountability, Dignity, Diligence, Duty, Honour, Integrity, Loyalty, Objectivity, Responsibility and Transparency.
The Minister noted that recommendations were made by Cabinet to give the Integrity Commission “teeth” to investigate all disclosures made by the public and to let the commission have its own corruption prosecution division.
These updates were highlighted as the Minister was addressing a gathering at the Transparency International Guyana (TIGI) Incorporated fund raising dinner on Saturday. The Minister commended the organisation for the work it has been doing in Guyana over the years, and noted that the country will be enriched by the investigative work and sharp observations and comments of TIGI.
Minister Ramjattan stated that, “I rather suspect that because of these actions on the part of Government, Transparency International elevated Guyana’s points to 34 in year 2016 from 27 and 29 in years 2014 and 2015 respectively.” According to Minister Ramjattan, this is the third highest jump in points by any country, five points from the previous year, and second only to Suriname.
By: Isaiah Braithwaite