‘Corruption threatens democracy’ – Finance Min. says at UN Special Session

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As countries participate in a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on preventing and combatting corruption, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, has emphasised that corruption threatens democracy and that Guyana remains committed to efforts geared at eradicating the scourge.

While addressing the meeting on challenges and measures to prevent and combat corruption and to strengthen international cooperation Wednesday, Dr. Singh lamented the lasting consequences of corruption.

“Its harmful effects on stability and security, public institutions and trust in them, the functioning and efficiency of markets, and overall economic performance, are well documented.

“It undermines the rule of law, and is often directly linked to serious crime, such as money laundering, terrorism, and trafficking of drugs, arms, and persons,” he said.

According to Dr. Singh, the scourge of corruption affects all countries, whether they are advanced economies or fragile states and the manifestations of corruption range from corporate activities to realities of daily life in small villages.

But, he posited, “… its effects are borne most heavily by the vulnerable.”

Recognising the far-reaching impact of corruption, Dr. Singh said that Guyana welcomed the convening of the session. Importantly, the Senior Minister expressed Guyana’s pleasure at the recognition of the importance of safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process in preventing corruption, ensuring accountability, promoting good governance and reinforcing trust in public institutions.

“Ultimately, corruption threatens the very core of the values of democracy, that we hold so dear as a global community, and for which so many of us have fought across continents and over centuries,” he underscored.

And, he noted that it was only last year that several international partners helped Guyana to ensure that its democracy was not subverted and that the democratic will of the people was, eventually, respected.

Upon surmounting those challenges last year and assuming office, the Senior Minister related that the current administration has restarted its agenda to strengthen those institutions that are critical to ensuring public accountability and good governance.

“That foundation includes our constitutional and legal frameworks in such areas as parliamentary oversight, independence and mandate of constitutional bodies, integrity in public office, public financial management, public procurement, and anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism,” he said too.

Looking ahead, he said that there must be continued capacity building, implementing the standards of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), and uphold the Santiago Principles for management of sovereign wealth funds.

Importantly, however, he stressed that small countries with limited human, technical and financial resources must be aided. As such, he drew attention to Clause 47 in the Lima Commitment on Democratic Governance against Corruption which emerged from the Fourth Summit of the Americas.

That Clause, he said, calls for coordination amongst international and regional anti-corruption bodies, to foster synergies and avoid duplication of effort in the fight against corruption.

While noting that Guyana reaffirms its commitment to continue working with international partners, the country also welcomes the recognition of how technical assistance will be in strengthening national capacity.

“It is opportune for us to reiterate, as a global community, the urgency of full implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, including those critical but pending global commitments on international development cooperation and climate action,” he said too.

This special session is being held from 2 to 4 June 2021 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

According to the UN, the special session will provide an opportunity to galvanize the political will of governments and the international community as a whole in advancing the fight against corruption.

Additionally, it was noted that governments will be able to take stock of global efforts and commitments and identify solutions to common challenges in preventing and combating corruption. And, it is expected that the special session will also contribute to driving forward the efforts of countries to fully and effectively implement the Convention, including by, inter alia, sharing best practices and lessons learned.

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