Guyana continues to record unacceptably low scores in the annual Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index, a state of affairs that Government, in cooperation with the private sector, must collaborate to address, urges the UK’s chief diplomat in the South American country.
British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quinn, on Friday last told a gathering at the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association’s (GMSA) 22nd Annual Presentation Awards Dinner that confronting the perception of corruption is critical as Guyana moves closer to becoming an oil producer.
“It is a sad fact that Guyana’s scores on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index are unacceptably low,” Mr. Quinn stated.
He said there are too many instances worldwide where oil revenues have not been spent in the way they should have, “instead they have been diverted into pet projects and people’s pockets…Guyana must avoid this.”
According to the High Commissioner, “the fact is that the perception of corruption in Guyana gives Guyana a score of 34 out of 100 in the TI index. That places Guyana 108th out of 176 countries measured. The global average is 43 and the average for the Americas 44. Anything below 50 indicates a failure to tackle corruption.”
He told the gathering, “Whether you agree with the methodology or the score, the fact of the matter is the TI Index is globally accepted and is looked at by investors and those who want to do business in a country.”
The High Commissioner also used the occasion to highlight some of the progress being made by the former British Colony as it prepares to begin oil production.
“As Guyana moves to first oil in 2020 it is good to see there are moves afoot to put in place appropriate legislation. Be it on the creation of a Petroleum Commission or a Sovereign Wealth Fund,” he told those gathered for the event, held at the Guyana Marriott Hotel.
He cautioned however, “time is short so it is important such legislation is put in place as soon as possible.”
Such legislation, according to Mr. Quinn, must allow “of course for appropriate consultation with all interested parties – including the public.”
He further reminded that “it is, however, important that all Guyana’s attention is not placed on oil and gas alone…There is much else to be done to assist Guyanese business and the Guyanese economy.”
Speaking to the need for greater public-private partnerships in confronting the challenges that exist in the Guyana business landscape ahead of first oil, the High Commissioner said, “The public sector has a role to play, but ultimately the success of an economy is very much dependent on how well the private sector performs.”
He was adamant that success will depend on an effective working partnership between the government and private sector. “The Government cannot solve all of the problems or make sure the private sector flourishes. Neither can the private sector do this by itself. Instead it needs to be a partnership between both; a mutually supporting partnership for the benefit of Guyana,” the British High Commissioner stated.