According to the United Nations Development Fund, corruption undermines human development. It diverts public resources away from the provision of essential services. It increases inequality and hinders
national and local economic development by distorting marketsfor goods and services. It corrodes the rule of law and destroys public trust in governments and leaders. It is upon this premise that local authorities have sought to increase the fight against corruption by completing its own efforts with the expertise and knowledge of the international community. One of the international organizations from which Guyana receives guidance is the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (IACAC). The Inter-American Convention against Corruption (IACAC) came into force in 1997 and is the first international anti-corruption treaty that has influenced the adoption of a number of other international instruments, including United
Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the African Convention against Corruption.
The main objectives of IACAC are: (a) to promote and strengthen the development of the mechanisms
needed to prevent, detect, punish and eradicate corruption; and (b) to promote, facilitate and regulate
cooperation among the Member States to ensure the effectiveness of measures and actions in place to
fight corruption. The most important aspect of the Convention relates to preventive measures.
It covers the following key areas:
- Internal controls and maintenance of books of account;
- Written rules and instructions for the proper execution of duties;
- Conservation and proper use of public resources;
- Government hiring and compensation;
- Procurement of goods and services, and the execution of works; • Revenue collection and control;
- Codes of conduct, conflicts of interest and other ethical considerations;
- Declaration of income, assets and liabilities;
- Participation of civil society;
- Reporting acts of corruption and whistleblower protection; and
- Oversight arrangements.
Other aspects of the Convention include measures to combat transnational bribery; illicit enrichment; unauthorized use of classified or confidential information; extradition proceedings; assistance and cooperation among State parties; identifying, tracing, freezing, seizure and forfeiting property or
proceeds from corrupt activities; and bank secrecy laws.
The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which Guyana is also a signatory
to, came into force in 2005 and is more detailed than IACAC. Parties to UNCAC are expected
to develop and implement or maintain effective and coordinated anticorruption policies that
promote the participation of society and reflect the principles of the rule of law, proper management of
public affairs and public property, integrity, transparency and accountability. UNCAC specifically refers to the establishment of a body or bodies to promote effective practices aimed at preventing corruption.
These bodies should be granted the necessary independence and resources to carry out their
functions effectively, free of undue influence.In relation to the public sector, State parties are to adopt, maintain and strengthen systems for the recruitment, hiring, retention, promotion and retirement of civil
servants and non-elected officials based on, among others, efficiency, transparency and objective criteria
such as merit, equity and aptitude.
In addition, they ensure that appropriate systems are in place for public procurement, based on transparency, competition and objective criteria in decisionmaking that are effective in preventing corruption.
Other measures include:
- Establishing criteria concerning candidature for and selection to public office, enhanced transparency in the funding of candidates for elected public office, and funding of political parties;
- Maintaining and strengthening systems that promote transparency and prevent conflicts of interest;
- Facilitating simplified access by members of the public to information on government programs and activities;
- Strengthening the integrity of the judiciary and prosecution services to prevent opportunities for corruption
among its members;
- Enhancing accounting and auditing standards for the private sector, and ensuring cooperation between law
- Participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector to raise public awareness regarding the existence, causes and gravity of and the threat posed by corruption;
- Ensuring comprehensive domestic regulatory and supervisory regime for banks and nonbank financial
institutions, as well as other bodies particularly susceptible to money laundering, including the establishment of a financial intelligence unit;
- Criminalizing laundering of proceeds, of acts of bribery, embezzlement, abuse of functions and other related acts as well as concealment and obstruction of justice; and
- Freezing, seizure and confiscation of proceeds of crime as well as property derived from such proceeds.
It is crucial to note that Guyana acceded to the IACAC in 2000 and UNCAC in 2008. Furthermore, the
Organization of American States (OAS) recently completed its fourth round review of Guyana’s
compliance with IACAC relating to oversight bodies, which include the Audit Office, Director of
Public Prosecution (DPP), Service Commissions and the National Tender and Administration Board
(NPTAB). The main recommendations are:
(a) these bodies are provided with adequate financial and human resources to enable them to discharge their responsibilitieseffectively; and
(b) an anticorruption agency established with specialized units within the Police Force and the Office of the
DPP. Guyana has consistently scored poorly on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). In addition, allegations of corrupt behaviour are being highlighted in the print media on a routine basis.
In view of the current workload of the Police and the Office of the DPP and their lack of experience and expertise in dealing with white collar crimes, local commentators have said that it would be more appropriate for anti-corruption legislation to be promulgated to provide for, among others, the establishment of an anti-corruption agency clothed with powers of prosecution and a special anti-corruption court to
deal with offenders.
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