Facing up to the scourge of corruption

Guyana Chronicle
October 27, 1999

WITH all the claims about alleged corruption in official circles that have been levelled over the years, it would not be surprising if those who have been most vociferous in making the charges do not take President Bharrat Jagdeo at his word and help root out the cancer.

The President over the weekend reiterated the position of the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/Civic) against corruption, pledging that the battle against this will be a hallmark of his government.

"I want to make it clear that anyone, no matter who you are, that we find is engaged in corrupt practices, that person will feel the full force of the rod and I am asking the people of our country to help me in this task," he stressed in a television interview with GTV General Manager, Mr. Martin Goolsarran.

He said he has put the issue very high on his agenda and has appealed to citizens who witness wrongdoing to come forward and assist.

Those who are willing to take a stand and come forward to assist are the ones to help, the President recognised.

It would be na´ve to expect that those who have been seeing corruption behind every door in every government department, purely to try to score political points, would jump on board the anti-corruption bandwagon that has been promised renewed impetus by the President.

Political opponents would not be too enthusiastic about helping, simply because it would rob them of muck to throw at the government if whatever corruption there is, is tracked down and rooted out.

Going after those who fleece taxpayers and rob the government would require goodwill from citizens and employees with the best interests of the nation at heart.

And these are the people, we feel, who are best suited to taking up Mr. Jagdeo's fresh call to arms against corruption, wherever it may exist.

The President should make this a recurring theme for some time as he continues his travels around the country so that people, still sceptical about the government's seriousness in dealing with this issue, will become more convinced that they are not being asked to join in an empty crusade.

Tracking down a few offenders quickly and bringing them to justice will work wonders for the public enthusiasm about the fight against corruption and no time should be lost in making examples of some scoundrels.

Mr. Jagdeo has brought to the presidency the freshness of his relative youthfulness and there is no reason to doubt that this vigour and enthusiasm could re-energise the battle against the scourge of corruption.

Talk about corruption among officials is widespread but few have been able to back up claims with hard evidence that could lead to prosecution.

The fight has to get some real teeth and the President has pledged to take it on board.

Those who can should give him a chance to prove that it can be done.

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