Public officials urged to adopt anti-corruption posture – SARA’s Anti-Corruption Seminar begins – call issued for enforcement of anti-corruption laws

DPI, GUYANA, Monday, May 14, 2018

The State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) today hosted the first in a series of Anti-Corruption training seminars with the staff of key government agencies, including the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), where the need for enforcement of the law was emphasised.

Deputy Commissioner – General, Customs, Excise and Trade Administration, GRA, Lancelot Wills called on officials to adopt an anti-corruption posture in keeping with Guyana’s obligations under several international conventions.

Wills, said the United Nations Convention Against Corruption adopted in 2005, requires a hemispheric body, along with another country and UN specialists, to evaluate member states.

It is against this backdrop that the training is positioned. “We want to situate this educational process as though we are not only sensitising ourselves, but we are becoming more aware as to what is required of us”, Wills stated.

According to the top GRA official, while Guyana does not lack the anti-corruption laws, it needs to strengthen the enforcement aspect. While traditionally corruption is directed towards public officials, Wills said this is not always the case, underscoring the need for a holistic approach in the fight against it.

Deputy-Director, State Assets Recovery Agency, Aubrey Heath-Retemyer said the international community has adopted a stern posture towards corruption, therefore it is imperative that this country follows suit.

“It is much easier to close the door on corruption than going after stolen wealth. We are in the process of doing that. It is costing us a lot of money and a lot of time”, Retemyer added.

Over the years, Guyana adopted a pervasive attitude towards corruption, which stifled development in a number of sectors, he pointed out, “Between the years 2010-2014, Retemyer said, some $28 – $35 Billion was lost as a result of procurement fraud, while an overwhelming $100Billion was diverted to the “underground economy.”

“Without that oil coming off the shores of Guyana, what we have now, what we been experiencing for years, we could make this a far better country than what it is”, he opined.

The State Assets Recovery Agency is an autonomous body, created through the State Assets Recovery Act of 2017, and passed in Parliament on April 13, 2017.

The Act mandated SARA to recover, through civil proceedings, state property unlawfully acquired by a public official or any other person.

By Stacy Carmichael

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