Even though Guyana’s laws provide criminal penalties for corruption by officials, the US State Department has found that the government generally does not enforce the law effectively or uniformly.
In its latest investment climate report, the US State Department noted that the relevant laws enacted to address various forms of corruption include: the Integrity Commission Act, State Assets Recovery Act, and the Audit Act. The department stated that while these laws may be strong, officials still appear to engage in corrupt practices at times with impunity.
It went further to state that several media outlets have reported on government corruption in recent years while adding that it is a matter that remains of significant public concern. The department noted that media and civil society organizations have criticized the government continuously for being slow to prosecute corruption cases too.
In this regard, the department noted that even though the government passed legislation in 1997 that requires public officials to disclose their assets to the Integrity Commission prior to assuming office, media reports suggest that a significant section of public officials did not honor this requirement in 2019. In fact, the very Commission had published advertisements in the daily newspapers recently calling for officials to honour their commitments.
Additionally, the department noted that widespread concerns remain about inefficiencies and corruption regarding the awarding of contracts, particularly with respect to concerns of collusion and non-transparency. In this regard, the department pointed out that the Auditor General’s latest annual report noted continuous disregard for the procedures, rules, and the laws that govern public procurement system. The said document also cited cases of overpayments of contracts and procurement breaches.
Even though there is poor enforcement of the law, the department did note that Guyana has improved the overall perceptions of corruption. It recalled in this regard that Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranked Guyana 85 out of 180 countries for perceptions of corruption, advancing eight spots in comparison to 2018.