–organisation points to efforts made to address weaknesses in governance observed under coalition administration
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has commended local authorities for the progress made in strengthening Guyana’s anti-corruption framework and fiscal transparency.
Several pillars of the anti-corruption framework were recently strengthened, including the Integrity and Public Procurement Commissions and the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board, the IMF said in a report documenting the conclusions of its Article IV Consultation with local authorities.
The international financial institution went on to acknowledge the publication of audit reports on public expenditures, including for COVID-19, and the government’s efforts to follow up on recommendations made in those audit reports.
“Asset declarations of a large number of public officials are submitted annually, and public procurement tenders are streamed live,” the IMF said.
The authorities, the organisation said, also made progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2019 and 2021 Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) reports, notably on the reconciliation with the fiscal regime.
“Some progress has also been made on information sharing and publication of extractive industries’ financial statements, and the authorities are strengthening capacity to address remaining gaps, including in moving towards electronic disclosure and adequate follow-up,” the IMF related.
This represents a significant improvement from what was recorded by the IMF in its 2019 Article IV report.
According to the report which captures policies implemented by the former coalition administration, there were weaknesses in the governance and anti-corruption frameworks that could have given rise to corruption vulnerabilities.
One initiative that was “hurriedly” implemented by the coalition, the Natural Resources Fund (NRF) Act, was replaced by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government’s NRF Act 2021, which came into operation on January 1, 2022.
The new act represents a significant improvement in transparency and accountability and the overall management of the natural resource wealth of Guyana for present and future generations.
According to the IMF: “The recent amendments to the NRF Act set clear ceilings on withdrawals from the Fund for budgetary spending and promote transparency in the management and use of oil resources. Staff praise the authorities’ thorough review of the NRF Act before making amendments, and the restraint in using any oil revenues before the passage of the amendments.”
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, had underscored that Guyana has a robust anti-corruption framework, noting: “We believe that what we have started to develop and what we have already, in terms of an anti-corruption framework in our country, is a good and robust framework, in comparison to some other countries.”
She added: “Now, our focus should be on a systematic approach to ensure that we do not operate in silos. We have to develop a systematic approach to dealing with anti-corruption in our country – a systematic approach, not a silo approach…when we look at what is our framework and the role of the various agencies, which structure and deal with the elements of the anti-corruption framework, we recognise the need for a more systematic approach.”
Teixeira had noted that work on anti-corruption is linked to building trust and confidence, since acts of corruption undermine public trust and confidence in the government and also has an impact on democracy.
“It is important to recognise that this is not the responsibility of one person alone. It is all of our responsibility to reduce corruption and to be able to make our anti-corruption mechanism work,” she said.
Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, had said too: “We equally believe that openness, transparency and accountability in government is an absolutely essential prerequisite in democratic governance. Indeed we believe that democracy goes hand in hand with openness, transparency and accountability.”
He added that the PPP/C government, since 1992, has been working hard to establish and strengthen the institutions to operationalise the anti-corruption framework Guyana is subscribed to.
“Let me be clear that we are under no illusion that our work is done….we are not under the illusion that we can now sit and rest on our laurels….let me say unequivocally that we in the PPP/C are under no illusion that our work is done….we are constantly examining the anti-corruption framework to identify areas for strengthening and areas for elaboration by way of subsidiary legislation and regulation,” Dr. Singh said, adding that the inclusion of technology was also part of the improvement of the Guyana’s anti-corruption framework.