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Gov’t keen on strengthening procurement framework to guarantee transparency – GS Jagdeo

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With the elections season drawing closer, General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Dr Bharrat Jagdeo said allegations of corruption levelled against the government is expected, however, the government is keen on strengthening the procurement framework to facilitate utmost transparency.

Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Dr Jagdeo said the government is undertaking a thorough review of the procurement system across all levels of government to ensure compliance with the law and everyone is treated fairly.

People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo engaging media operatives at Freedom House on Thursday

Although Dr Jagdeo spoke on this issue at the last press conference, he reiterated the government’s firm position in response to an editorial published in one of the local newspapers.

“I saw an editorial in the Stabroek News…it faithfully lays out what we said and it posed the question, whether we’re serious or not about it. And let me tell you that we’re dead serious about this matter,” he stressed.

He underscored that the PPP/C Administration will not be defensive about fraud scandals or controversies, since it is keen on ensuring everyone benefits through the procurement system.

“When governments are in office they don’t want to hear about any flaw in the procurement system. We [PPP] on the other hand, we want to make sure that we address any flaw because we believe it fits in with our ideals, our goals, and it would also help our country,” the GS pointed out.

Dr Jagdeo, however, lamented the unfair treatment of the government by the local media, who on every occasion, downplays instances of corruption that occurred under the coalition government.

Now when the government has allegations levelled against them, this is never the case.

“Let me put it bluntly, corruption under the PPP could be 10 per cent of what took place under APNU, but the media will make it look like it’s 100 times or 10 times more. And we’ve seen this before…They minimize what took place under APNU and blow out of proportion what takes place under this government,” he underlined.

Dr Jagdeo pointed the media to a series allegation that fingered the coalition in corrupt practices.

In 2018, according to a report from the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) a slew of procurement laws was breached when a $148 million was awarded to a Dutch company for a feasibility study for a new bridge design across the Demerara River. An investigation was conducted based on a request from the then Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira.

That was not the only instance. Reeling back to 2015, APNU/AFC had signed an agreement with Fedders Lloyd Corporation Limited to build and equip a specialty hospital without a public tender for the project.

Guyana operates under a robust anti-corruption framework, having ratified and committed to several international conventions:

Inter-American Convention against Corruption (IACAC): Ratified on February 15, 2001.

United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC): Acceded on April 16, 2008, and in force from May 16, 2008.

Lima Commitment: Adopted in April 2018.

UNGASS Political Declaration on Corruption: Committed in June 2021.

CELAC Working Group on Preventing and Combating Corruption: Established in 2021.

Guyana adheres to reporting under two major anti-corruption conventions:

IACAC under the Organisation of American States (OAS): The first global multilateral anti-corruption treaty, with the Follow-up Mechanism (MESICIC) monitoring implementation.

UNCAC: The only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. Guyana has completed two reporting cycles: Cycle 1 (2010-2015) covering criminalization, law enforcement, and international cooperation; and Cycle 2 (2015-2020) covering preventive measures and asset recovery.

Further, led by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, the local National Coordinating Committee on Anti-Corruption, comprising a cross-section of government agencies, ensures compliance with international reporting obligations, capacity building, and inter-agency synergy.

The NCC meets monthly, with representation from 16 agencies.

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