Attorney General Anil Nandlall has joined the attack on Transparency International (TI) on the publication of its 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index. Because Mr Nandlall is a member of a profession which calls itself learned, and which is known for its members researching before speaking, and speaking with a certain sense of responsibility and decorum, I thought it might be useful to examine how Mr Nandalall’s statement stacks up against those standards.
Mr Nandlall accused TI of:
1. Failing to disclose “the empirical data or sources that they examined to arrive at those conclusions.”
2. Not stating the methodology as to how the organisation ended up at its findings [sic].
3. Not disclosing whom they spoke to and which institutions and organisations, or which documents they consulted.
4. “Gross dereliction” by arriving at baseless disclosures.
5. Failure to say where corruption exists, be it in the government, public or private sector.
6. Failure to examine the institutional mechanisms which are in place constitutionally, legislatively or departmentally.
7. Being insulting and disrespectful to Guyana and Guyanese.
Points 1, 2, 3 and 4 are all on the same issue: that Transparency International did not disclose vital information and sources.
If Mr Nandlall had taken the elementary research step of going on TI’s website he would have learnt that the basis for inclusion of a country/territory in the CPI is a minimum of three of the CPI’s data sources. The website also identifies CPI’s 2012 data sources as: i) African Development Bank (ADB); ii) Bertelsmann Foundation (German non-profit foundation); iii) International Institute for Management Development (IMD); iv) World Competitiveness Yearbook; v) International Country Risk Guide (ICRG); vi) World Bank; vii) World Economic Forum (WEF); viii) World Justice Project; ix) Economist Intelligence Unit; x) Global Insight; xi) Political Economic Risk Consultancy (Asian); xii) Transparency International Bribe Payers Survey; and Freedom House (no, not that one).
If he had acted more responsibly, he would have learnt that in the case of Guyana, there were four sources: ICRG, WB, WEF and Global Insight, and that a country’s score on the index is a simple average of its data sources.
Point 5 is even worse in terms of Mr Nandlall’s research efforts. I find it embarrassing that the Attorney General of this country does not by now know that the definition of corruption in the TI lexicon is “misuse of public office for private gain.” Perhaps he is more familiar with relevant examples such as Pradoville 1 and 2; the misuse of duty-free concessions; and paying out of the Treasury so-called advisors to the President and the Local Government Minister to work at Nandlall’s party in Freedom House.
Mr Nandlall should and could have served his and the country’s interest by challenging the local Institute to start speaking out on private sector corruption, including tax evasion and money laundering. He must be personally aware that members of his and other professions as well as aggressive law firms not only engage in these practices for their own direct benefit, but also in aiding and abetting others to do so.
Once Mr Nandlall understands my comments on points 1 to 5 above, he will realise that point 6 is not relevant to his argument. I cannot believe that the holder of such a distinguished public office does not recognise that in his attempt to discredit others, he ought not to be relying on laws that are on the statute books but not in operation. Any person would know that rather than prevent and punish, it actually perpetuates corruption if the Procurement Commission is not established ten years after it became a mandatory constitutional requirement; if there is an Integrity Commission without commissioners; an Access to Information Act not brought into force sixteen months after passage; and a Judicial Review Act not brought into force two years after passage.
On disrespect and insult, readers might wish to consider whether Mr Nandlall’s failures do not amount to an insult to his own intelligence, that of the legal profession and to the expectation of Guyanese to have an Attorney General who is informed, responsible, temperate and accurate.
Finally Editor, I researched the recent publications of leading newspapers in Zimbabwe and Pakistan which had much worse ratings than Guyana in the 2012 Index. In fact, in the case of Pakistan, the 2012 CPI was sensationally misreported by stating that Pakistan was the 33rd most corrupt country in the world. That report wrongly assumed that all the countries of the world were covered in the survey. Some twenty countries were not.
Yet I could not see any article or statement in which the governments of Pakistan and Zimbabwe engaged in any attack on Transparency International or their national chapters, let alone in the crass, vulgar, shameless and disgraceful manner in which Mr Nandlall, Ms Gail Teixeira, the PPP/C and the PYO did in the case of Guyana.