Governance and Corruption in Suriname

 By: Mavrick Boejoekoe*

According to the global corruption barometer of Latin America and the Caribbean there is a lack of integrity amongst political figures and institutions, especially concerning the electoral processes in this region (The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2018).
Corruption can lead to weak institutions and stagnates the development of a country. It has a greater impact on the quality of public service delivery. Jim Yon Kim (2014) states the following
about the lack of good governance; “…many governments fail to deliver public services effectively; health and education services are often substandard; corruption…chok[es] opportunity and growth. It will be difficult to reduce extreme poverty — let alone end it — without addressing the importance of good governance” (p1).

The Republic of Suriname is located on the northeast of South America with a population of 550.000. Suriname’s economy is almost entirely dependent on its nonrenewable resources, gold and petroleum, which makes it very susceptible to fluctuations of prices on the world market. In 2015 Suriname plunged into a recession due to the decreasing prices on the world market for gold. A direct result from the recession and the challenges in the bauxite industry resulted in poor financial standing indicated by the GoS’slarge debt deficit. This stimulated the GoS to change the Wet op de Staatschuld in 2017 (1), allowing it more flexibility to get loans, in spite of the lack of support from different stakeholders. The biggest concern was that this would enable the GoS to borrow more capital without being accountable to the opposition in parliament. The following article describes some of the obstacles that the Government of Suriname (GoS) faces regarding corruption and good governance.

According to the Transparency International (2018) Suriname ranks 70th on the corruption perception Index of 2019. Corruption according to the Corruption Risk Assesment for Suriname (2017) stagnates the economy and the institutions. It is caused by insufficient preventive regulation and or the ad-hoc concession of business licenses. In 2018 the Anti- Corruptie Wet (2) was approved in the parliament. This law resulted in the creation of an anti-corruption committee. Even though this committee is an important step forward for the country, it has very limited authority and can only advise the government and develop anti- corruption policy. One of the challenges Suriname faces is the image of being a transit country for illegal drugs. With a small police and military force it is very difficult to control the porous borders of this country, especially parts of the inaccessible district of Sipaliwini, which is covered by dense tropical rainforest.

Another challenge that limits the development of the country is the ease with which money can be laundered. The US State Department’s International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (2017), released in March, lists Suriname as a country of major concern for money-laundering linked to drug-trafficking, corruption and small-scale informal gold mining, with proceeds invested in casinos, real estate, foreign-exchange houses, car dealerships and construction. Suriname is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) which is a sub organization of the Financial Act Task Force (FATF). The membership of this organizations requires member states to be in compliance of the forty recommendations that were done by the FATF. Member states are required to analyze terrorist financing and money laundering and implement an action plan that will introduce or modify national laws and legislation, designate a competent authority and implement a mechanism that will monitor the risk and resources to mitigate the identified risk and vulnerabilities regarding terrorism and money laundering. The country will be evaluated in 2020 by the FATF. This is the reason the GoS implemented a National Risk Assesment (NRA) in 2019.

The GoS has taken different approaches in solving the corruption problems in the country some of these initiatives are the NRA and an anti- corruption law which resulted in an anti- corruption  committee. The authority of this committee is limited to advising the government and making
policy. The GoS also signed and ratified the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (IACAC). Against these backgrounds, corruption still is prevalent in the country. How the GoS deals with these challenges will determine the country’s social and economic development after the election.

* Mr. Mavrick Boejoekoe was a District Commissioner responsible for the strategic leadership in a tribal river side community residing in the Sipaliwini district rainforest of Suriname. In 2016 he founded the Youth Education and Leadership Foundation where he works to empower the youth of these communities. Mavrick has a Master in Public Administration from Anton de Kom University of Suriname and a MBA from the International Businesschool americaseurope.


(1) The State Debt Law (S.B. 2017 no. 10)
(2) The Anti- Corruption Law (S.B 2017, no. 85)

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