THREE employees of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) were fired during the course of 2019 because they were found to be engaged in corrupt practices.
Corrupt practices among employees of the Commission were discovered in the past, but the GLSC had taken measures to reduce and even eradicate corruption, measures which saw the three employees being fired this year.
Head of GLSC’s Human Resource and Administration Division, Shonda James-Williams said the Commission has zero tolerance for corruption, and had to take necessary steps to ensure that the “zero tolerance policy” was embedded in the system.
“Three employees were terminated for corruption; we found that staff would have entered into private agreements with clients,” said James-Williams during a press briefing at the GLSC’s head office on Monday.
The human resources manager added that the former employees had issued receipts and collected money in exchange for land. An employee was also fired for inflating bills and taking money to do surveys. All of these transactions were done privately, James-Williams said.
Most of the cases surfaced after the clients, who were promised land, did not receive those lands in a timely manner, so they visited the Commission’s office to enquire about their “application”. Other cases of fraud were discovered through financial audits, which were conducted throughout the year. “When those cases came to us, as a Commission, we acted in relation to our zero tolerance policy,” James-Williams said, adding: “We had to terminate the staff because it is an act of dishonesty. You see, we can’t stop corruption, but we deal with it as soon as we find it.”
When asked if clients who were defrauded received compensation, James-Williams said they were reimbursed in some cases. The human resources manager said the police was not called in, because the clients declined to pursue the matter at that level.
Although just the employees of the Commission were penalised, the Commissioner, Trevor Benn, believes that clients need to desist from privately engaging staff of the Commission, and offering to pay them to fast-track an application and so forth.
“Persons should not be paying staff members for any service; they should not even be speaking to them directly about any payment,” Benn said, adding that the GLSC has been implementing systems to ensure that there is adequate and efficient checks and balances.
As part of their efforts to improve monitoring, the Commission had moved to digitise its systems, so that there would be more transparency and efficiency. Back in June, the GLSC had made a formal report to the Guyana Police Force (GPF) for an investigation to be launched into the leakage of unauthorised maps to Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo. Jagdeo had used the maps to make reference to persons to whom land were allocated.
“There was evidence of the Commission’s property being on display at a press conference without any record in the Commission to show payments were made for those properties… This is clear evidence that our staff has been corrupted,” Benn had said.
He had issued a call to the police to enquire how the documents got into the hands of Jagdeo, since there was no evidence that the documents were paid for at the GLSC.
He said it is against the commission’s Human Resources (HR) policy for staff of the commission to divulge personal information of clients. The commission has a system in place, which allows persons to access or have copies of documents if they visit the GLSC.
“No requests were made, I am not aware and none of my officers can attest to any request being made to us,” Benn lamented.
When asked if the GPF updated the commission on that matter, Benn said they have not received any further information from the police.