Mr. President, here are some stark reminders Jagdeo was a ‘law unto himself’
SEPTEMBER 25, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
In your news item, “President Ramotar will not stop any of Jagdeo’s projects,” (KN, September 23), wasn’t President Donald Ramotar being egregiously disingenuous in his characterization of former President Bharrat Jagdeo not ‘being a law unto himself’?
In response to questions whether Guyana is likely to see him ‘charting his own course’ instead of being in the shadow of Jagdeo, President Ramotar reportedly said, “I don’t think you understand how we (the PPP) operate… That is why you probably ask a question like that. Jagdeo was not a law unto himself. He has never been a law unto himself. Those were programmes of the PPP. Those were policies of the PPP/C.”
Well, here are some stark reminders for the President.
When the Jagdeo administration ordered the withdrawal of state ads from Stabroek News in February 2007, PPP matriarch, Janet Jagan joined with others in condemning the move. Jagdeo openly derided her as ‘just another citizen’. Was he not being a law unto himself?
In the May 01, 2012 letter to Stabroek News captioned, “The PPP called on the government to restore state advertisements to Stabroek News but was ignored,” former PPP executive, Mr. Ralph Ramkarran wrote, “The PPP did not consider the withdrawal of the advertisements to be a trifling matter. It was extensively discussed both at the Executive Committee and later, the Central Committee, of the PPP which called on the Government to restore the advertisements to the Stabroek News. The Government ignored the decision and since the PPP did not practise ”party paramountcy” there was no way of enforcing it.”
Was Mr. Ramkarran being disingenuous? Was the late Janet Jagan really speaking as ‘just another citizen’ or the matriarch of the party?
On the eve of President Ramotar’s address to the 10th Parliament earlier this year, GTUC General Secretary, Mr. Lincoln Lewis said the “GTUC (is) confident Ramotar will depart from Jagdeo’s autocratic rule,”(KN, February 10, 2012). Was Mr. Lewis wrong in his description of the Jagdeo presidency as ‘autocratic’ or a law unto itself?
In December 2009, Jagdeo fired Presidential Advisor, Mr. Navin Chandarpal, for gross incompetence, but Mr. Chandarpal, a PPP executive, retorted that he was fired for being openly critical of Jagdeo over the issue of secret ballots to choose the party’s presidential candidate. ”Every Guyanese knows who is the most vindictive of all,” he said at the time. Being labeled vindictive as a leader is not far from being a law unto one’s self!
When PPP Leader Mr. Ramotar was then asked why the PPP was not doing anything to rein in the excesses of President Jagdeo, he reportedly said that the PPP will not interfere with the decisions made by Jagdeo as President. Does Mr. Ramotar not remember saying words to that effect in the wake of Mr. Chandarpal’s firing?
Then there is the highly contentious state-owned NICIL issue. The law says NICIL must submit its audited accounts to Parliament every year, yet for eight years, NICIL did not comply with the law. And President Jagdeo did nothing about it? And although NICIL’s CEO, Mr. Winston Brassington promised earlier this year to have the audited accounts tabled by July 31, last, the nation is still waiting.
Clico (Guyana) broke the local insurance laws by investing 53% of its local funds overseas at the time of its collapse, and instead of the Jagdeo administration applying the punitive measures prescribed by law against Clico (Guyana), it rushed to place the company under Bank of Guyana supervision. Why was the law skirted here, Mr. Ramotar?
In closing, the collective leadership concept President Ramotar also seems to be advocating may have been good for the PPP, but it is no good for government. His abysmal failure to arrest corruption and paint a bold vision for Guyana away from the Jagdeo scam projects will not absolve him of direct responsibility, even if he tries to claim that he was doing what the PPP wants or decides. No wonder the PPP government is such a mess!
And while he regrets the PPP does not have a parliamentary majority, someone needs to tell him that it was his job as PPP General Secretary to keep the party’s support base intact so the PPP could win the presidency and have a parliamentary majority. That a significant number of PPP supporters voted AFC was evidence of his failure, on top of his failure on GuySuCo’s board. He started out with a failed record and is refusing to buck the trend.
Mr. Nigel Hinds’s letter “Masters of Finance – Singh, Greenidge & Ram” (Stabroek News, March 15, 2012) has drawn sharp comments on the meaning and intent of the term “best and brightest”, particularly from those who felt that Mr. Hinds was unjustifiably praising Dr. Ashni Singh, the Minister of Finance.
In fact, “best and brightest” is a term of deprecation going back at least to a letter in a 1769 publication in which the writer used it mockingly and ironically to describe King George III’s ministers. Exactly two hundred years later, its place in infamy was sealed when journalist David Halberstam used it as the title of his # 1 bestseller which exposed the intellectual bankruptcy of the whiz-kids of John Kennedy’s disastrous policy that led to America’s ignominious defeat in the Vietnam War.
That it was in that context of derision that Mr. Hinds identified Dr. Singh is clear from his paragraph calling for his “cleansing the Augean Stables filled with questionable deals, those facilitated by National Commercial and Industrial Development Limited (NICIL), sale of Sanata Textile Mills, Amaila Falls Project engineered by the infamous Fip Motilal, Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC] contracts with New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation [New GPC], and the absence of lottery funds from Consolidated Fund to name a ‘few’”.
It is public knowledge that Dr. Singh was personally involved in every one of these “questionable deals”, and in the case of the “infamous” Fip Motilall, Dr. Singh’s ministry caused to be issued through GINA a three-page attack of undignified calumny on “Ram-like critics” who, on the bizarre selection of Fip Motilall as contractor for the road to the Amaila Falls, dared to expose Motilall as a fake contractor. They have been proved right and Dr. Singh wrong.
In the case of the GPHC and New GPC contracts, it is the Dr. Singh-controlled National Procurement and Tender Administration Board that annually approves single source contracts, and outrageous of all, Dr. Singh chairs the truly egregious National Industrial & Commercial Investments Ltd (NICIL) which spearheaded the tender for the Amaila Road Project.
But these were only a few examples of Dr. Singh’s “brightness”. Here are some others:
1. Every single audit report since Dr. Singh became Minister of Finance reminds us that “the Contingencies Fund continues to be abused”. And the abuser: the Minister of Finance in whom section 41 (2) of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA) invests sole powers and responsibilities over the Contingencies Fund.
2. Dr. Singh’s Finance Ministry has underwritten every one of the corrupt transactions of the Jagdeo Administration since October 2006, including the infamous Pradoville 2 for which Dr. Singh’s NICIL allotted house lots to former President Jagdeo, Cabinet Members, members of NICIL board and friends, all at below market price; computer purchases from a Brooklyn barbershop location; sole sourcing of school books for $90 million; disastrous multi-billion dollar road and other infrastructure contracts; and the sale and giveaway of state properties.
3. On all but one occasion of Dr. Singh’s presentation of the [annual] mid-year report under section 67 of the FMAA, the report pre-dates by months the date of its publication, prompting integrity concerns about Dr. Singh.
4. Dr. Singh has never once complied with section 21 of the FMAA dealing with conditional appropriations, concealing the real annual budget deficit. . Nor on his own recent admission in the National Assembly, has he ever complied with the section 24 (4) of the FMAA, on each of the fourteen occasions he came to the National Assembly for supplementary funds.
5. Dr. Singh has begun to use creative financing to plug the ballooning budget deficit caused by over-spending and non-receipt of the Norway money. In 2010 he treated $11.117 billion as Miscellaneous Income, “the net result of the ‘closure’ of inactive accounts, and retiring long outstanding obligations in relation to the issuance and redemption of Government Securities.”
6. Dr. Singh was central to the sale of state property and the unlawful granting of tax exemptions to the Ramroop group, concessions which have been abused and which any responsible Minister of Finance would revoke. In these transactions, Dr. Singh had not one but three occasions to check the validity, legality and propriety of the transactions: as Minister of Finance, as Chairman of NICIL, and as a senior Cabinet minister. He missed them all.
7. As Minister of Finance, Dr. Singh controls the Consolidated Fund and has allowed the proceeds from the Lottery to be placed in a “special” account outside of the Consolidated Fund. He approves the operations of this extra-ordinarily special account from which only his mentor and protector former President Jagdeo could spend.
8. Dr. Singh was part of a transaction for $4 billion in which there was sufficient evidence to refer Minister of Housing Irfaan Ally for misleading the National Assembly.
9. Dr. Singh has presented five budgets to the National Assembly totaling $627.5 Billion. During that time, we have had no natural disasters or economic shocks undermining the Budget. Yet, during the same period, Dr. Singh has returned to the Assembly with fourteen (14) supplementary appropriation bills covering over 440transactions totaling $67.5 billion – conditions that would embarrass even a mediocre budget controller. For good measure, none of the transactions involving drawings from the Contingencies Fund, covering a minimum of $19.5 billion, was brought within the “next sitting” of the National Assembly timeframe required under section 41 (5) of the FMAA.
10. Dr. Singh has ministerial responsibility for the National Insurance Scheme and the Insurance Act. To him therefore, is due more than a quarter share of the blame in Jagdeo-Dr. Singh-Luncheon-Geeta Singh quartet for the NIS loss of $5 billion in Clico.
11. As Finance Minister Dr. Singh would have known of the mistake that led to the excessive VAT rate of 16%. In order to disguise the effect of the mistake and a windfall of close to twenty billion dollars, he sought supplementary spending provisions of $18 billion (24% of the Budget) in the last two months of 2007! “Brightness” is certainly not the word to describe such shocking conduct. No wonder, neither Dr. Singh nor former President Jagdeo has responded to my several public challenges to them to release an unredacted copy of the report of the Barbadian consultant who was contracted to carry out the exercise. Together Mr. Jagdeo and Dr. Singh have so far gouged the Guyanese taxpayers of more than fifty billion dollars.
12. Dr. Singh exercises professional, personal and private control (PPP/C) of the Audit Office in a manner that is unique to Guyana but inconsistent with the Constitution, the FMAA and the independence rules of the auditing profession, with obvious effect on thequality of the audits. .
As readers would expect, such a letter cannot address all the financial shenanigans hidden in the spending of $627 billion (US$3,135 million) during the last Parliament. Only a thorough investigation initiated by the National Assembly will reveal how the “best and brightest” Dr. Singh and his mentor, that other “best and brightest” Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, have mismanaged the country’s finances for five years while taking the entire country for one inglorious ride.
‘Fip’ Motilall secures US$12M for selling hydropower licence to Sithe Global
Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall will receive at least US$12 million in profit from the entire affair.
Synergy Holdings was originally awarded the contract to construct the Amaila Falls Hydro Power
Plant but after failing to secure financiers to back the project, was forced to sell his licence to Sithe Global.
A recent visit to Guyana by the top brass of Sithe Global, including its Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wrobel, afforded a chance for an answer to be had to the cost of the licence to Sithe Global.
Apart from disclosing Sithe Global’s rate of return on its US$152M investment in the hydroelectric project is 19 per cent, Wrobel also disclosed that Motilall will be walking away with some US$12M for flipping his licence to that company.
“Synergy is entitled under the agreement of the transfer of that asset to financial compensation upon successful completion of the project.”
Those were the words of James McGowan, Senior Vice President (Development) at Sithe Global and Wrobel disclosed this past week that the compensation will total some US$12M.
Wrobel says that the company is attempting to place a new face on things today as a result of the previous lamentations on the silence of all partners involved
“Our role is very clear….we are a builder, a designer, a developer of energy projects….we have never really encountered a situation before where the politics is so intermeshed in the power situation,” Wrobel said as he sought to explain why the company had remained silent for such a long time.
Wrobel said that the money will include some of the early preparatory works such as feasibility studies but should the project successfully close then Motilall earns some US$12M.
“His expenses including early works, come out of that,” Wrobel told this publication.
Synergy Holdings Inc. was first listed as the developer to design, build, own and operate a hydroelectric plant in Guyana.
In 2002, Synergy Holdings and Harza International were granted a licence by the Government of Guyana under the Hydro-Electricity Act for the development of a hydroelectric plant at Amaila Falls.
The licence was reportedly amended and extended in 2004 when Harza pulled out leaving Synergy as the sole licensee. The licence was again extended in 2006.
Synergy Holdings was granted a US$15.4 million contract to build the access roads to the proposed site for the hydropower plant. That contract was rescinded on January 12 last.
Synergy Holdings Inc in 2007 identified Sithe Global as a potential investor in the project.
In 2008, Sithe Global put out to tender, the Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) as part of the program and after vetting five bidders, China Railway was chosen as a contractor.
Synergy Holding’s Licence was formally transferred the following year to Sithe Global.
Motilall is himself no stranger to controversy as investigations found a plethora of evidence suggesting that Motilall could not have undertaken the Amaila Falls road.
The Amaila Hydropower Project is a planned hydroelectric project (approximately 165MW capacity) to be located in western Guyana.
The project also includes a new 270 km transmission line and new substations near Georgetown.
JANUARY 20, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
…backing out will incur ‘onerous penalties’-Dr Luncheon
There is a convention that prevents incumbent governments from entering into new contracts, signing new agreements and undertaking new projects in the weeks leading to elections.
However, former President Bharrat Jagdeo signed some multi-million-dollar contracts and committed the new government to the binding contracts.
Executive President Donald Ramotar, his administration and by extension the country are now bound to the contractual obligations that have been negotiated and signed into effect by Bharrat Jagdeo.
This was confirmed by Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, who conceded that the government cannot cancel these contracts and agreements causing the country to incur onerous penalties.
Some of the ‘secret deals’ signed onto by Jagdeo just weeks and days before the elections include the US$52M Marriott Hotel project, the US$140M extension of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the US$835M Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Plant.
There was also the US$40M communication cable from Brazil that is being installed with Chinese labour.
Dr Luncheon, who was at the time being questioned about the international contractual obligations that Jagdeo has committed Guyana to.
First pressed on the exit clauses embedded in the agreement with Sithe Global for the Hydro Project, Dr Luncheon said that he preferred to defer the questions to Winston Brassington of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited.
Dr Luncheon suggested that Brassington would be the better person to answer the queries given that he is much more “current than I am and his comprehensive grasp of the issues surrounding the main activity (the building of the hydropower facility) far exceeds mine.”
The Cabinet Secretary told the media that in each of the instances where agreements have been inked there is embodied in those agreements commitment and obligations by both parties.
He said that while there is absolutely nothing that prevents the agreements from being rescinded it is not simply a case of one party “just backing out.”
Dr Luncheon explained that in most cases there is a process with conditions under which this would be done.
He pointed to an example in the Hydropower agreement where there is a “force majeure” and a number arrangements that cater for unforeseen and unlikely events but warned that these are things that “the lawyers address in the body of the agreement to say that in these instances, were the agreement to lapse here is to say that who is at fault and here are how they are to be dealt with.”
“Force majeure” is a common clause in contracts. It essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, strike, riot, crime, or an event described by the legal term act of God (such as hurricane, flooding, earthquake, volcanic eruption, etc.), prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.
When pressed to simplify whether the Government can back away from the projects Dr Luncheon said that “it cannot be done without cause…it cannot be just, I feel like backing out…these things carry onerous penalties.”
Dr Luncheon illustrated his point by drawing reference to neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago where the Patrick Manning administration had committed that administration to have “built and even supply considerable security hardware…They had committed to spending enormous sums of money.”
He said that when the new administration took office the Kamla Prasad administration pulled the plug on the project, “at tremendous cost to the taxpayers of Trinidad.”
Guyana Government finally gets rid of Fip Motilall the agarbattie sales man turn highway builder/hydro engineer
BREAKING NEWS: Fip Motilall’s Amaila Falls access road contract quashed
Written by Kwesi Isles
Thursday, 12 January 2012 12:14
Government on Thursday announced that it has terminated the contract held by Fip Motilall for the construction of the Amaila Falls access road.
Works minister Robeson Benn made the announcement at a news briefing saying the action was due to the repeated delays in completing the project among other things.
“As of December 2011 the Contractor, Synergy Holdings Inc, had completed only 40 percent of the works despite repeated urgings and interventions from the Project Engineer and the Consulting Firm to have the project completed,” Benn said.
He added that the ministry will be taking steps to complete the remaining works.
Government had advanced Motilall
More details to follow.
NOVEMBER 4, 2011 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
I will not deny that I voted for Jagdeo. When I did so I voted for Jagdeo and not PPP. Also, I will not deny that I am absolutely unhappy with what I got. You see the ruling Government is not PPP, but Jagdeo.
He is on record lamenting the anguishes he recalls under the PNC, but could this boy really say he offered better?
I can tell you this, I voted for a change then, but that change was so fine, twelve years after it is still boring my pocket.
So with the above stated, I now ask all young people of this Nation what should your choice be? Do you put the old man to replace this boy, remember, who his boss was for the past twelve years.
As a youngster I recall two experiences– BLACKOUT and NO READY WATER SUPPLY when I turn on my tap. These very two sore topics PPP lamented on when campaigning in 1992.
Almost two decades after and after being told of the BILLIONS of dollars spent on these two utilities, I am still witnessing the same, and I know that you are too. So I ask, will the old man correct this? I would not say “I doubt”, I will say he cannot.
On corruption, Jagdeo has called for evidence of any malpractices. The government’s Auditor General has furnished reports of these delinquencies, so I ask you young people, have you seen or heard of any official being made to answer/pay for these crimes?
Jagdeo has chosen to repair/extend roads as opposed to building new roads. Let’s look at why this is his choice. If you had to repair/renovate a house, can anyone question you as to what materials were used from the old building and/or what is new? Thus, those billion dollars unaccounted contracts that are doled out to his cronies.
With all the griping about Global Warming, ever thought of our only road way on the East Bank to highlands being impassable due to the much touted rising water levels?, yet this man refuses to open new accesses to our highlands at alternative points along the coast.
Now he builds his house on the seawall after travelling the world to tell them of Global Warming/Rising Waters.
To my young friend I ask, will you allow these crimes to continue? I trust not.
Think wise on November 28, before placing your X.
On a side, last election a large group of person from South Georgetown did not exercise their constitutional privilege. It is perceived to be young Blacks. To you I ask, please do not repeat this mistake, please come out and bring with you a friend and VOTE come November 28.
Let’s not place the cart before the horse, together let us create a political environment where we as small people will matter. Not as it is today where the criminal who call themselves our leader has pushed us into submission.
Together we can do this. The criminals are panicking, they no longer count those attending their “vulgar stage arrangements” for elections campaign, by the thousands, they are so ashamed that they refer to the count as “in their numbers”.
Can we do this? Yes we can!!! I remain the young at heart,
Under the theme “Working for a Better Tomorrow”, the PPP/C Manifesto for the 2011 elections is a mix of distortions, mistruths and misrepresentations, wishful thinking or no thinking at all.
The two-page introduction, written by the Presidential candidate Mr. Donald Ramotar seems signally disconnected from the rest of the 43-page document.
Not content with the half-true contents of the Manifesto, Mr. Jagdeo, the PPP/C’s presidential candidate for the past two elections showed that he still does not believe that truth is a virtue. His capacity for inventiveness, make-belief and contempt for the intelligence of his audience guaranteed that he authored the most astounding lie of the Manifesto launch night when he told the audience that the PPP/C Government had only just paid off a US$300 million loan for the PNC’s failed Hydropower project!
Not only was it deception for the Manifesto to choose 1991 as its reference point when the PPP/C was in fact elected in the fourth quarter of 1992, but some of the selected information both then and now are fictitious and or fabricated.
GPL line loss was not 50% in 1991 nor is it less than 30% now (Page 13). GuySuCo does not produce 30 MW of bagasse power at Skeldon – a Wartsila diesel powered engine does –, and the current external debt is not “approximately US$800 million” – unless for the economist Mr. Ramotar and his economic team say that US$800 million and US$1,111 million are “approximately” the same!
The Manifesto boasts of the growth of the economy over the past nineteen years. It does not bother with the inconvenience that a substantial portion of the growth comes from the re-basing of the economy in 2009, an exercise which even a half-decent economist knows makes long-term comparisons meaningless.
Of course it would have been too honest to expect the Manifesto to tell us that the exchange rate of the US Dollar has sunk 65% since 1992; or that the domestic debt has climbed from $18 billion in 1992 to $103 billion at June 30, 2011; or that the cost of electricity was $12 compared with $54 per KW currently; or that greenheart was $85 per board metre compared with $350 now.
Jagdeo and now Ramotar repeat ad nauseum that 96% of revenues was consumed in servicing debt “when they took over”, and it is now four per cent. They should read the 1993 Budget Speech in which the first PPP/C Finance Minister Asgar Ally referred to “scheduled debt service obligation” and not actual debt servicing. And if they look at the 2010 revised figures, they will see that debt-servicing to revenue is not four per cent but 13.3%.
What is also striking is that Mr. Ramotar’s ‘vision’ for the next five years does not add a single new idea to the corruption-laden projects of Jagdeo’s last term. So we have:
1. the expensive and untested Chinese laptops that will run us into billions of dollars;
2. the Amaila hydropower project which will earn us the award for the most expensive hydropower in the world, guaranteeing that electricity rates will remain prohibitively high;
3. the tourism hospital which Jagdeo and his friend will import from India;
4. the Low Carbon Development Strategy that is neither low in carbon nor developmental in nature; and
5. the fibre-optic cable.
Ramotar shows a dangerously limited understanding of democracy and the Constitution when he promises local government elections within one year and “the strengthening of the local government ministry to oversee local government bodies.”
The man seems blissfully unaware that that is the purview of the constitutionally required Local Government Commission which his party in Government has refused to establish and that Article 79 requiring Parliament to provide criteria for allocating resources to the regions has not been given effect to.
Despite our border problems with Chavez’s Venezuela and Bouterse’s Suriname, or the imperative to resile from Jagdeo’s excursions with Kuwait, Libya and Iran, Ramotar does not think that Foreign Policy deserves a mention in 43 pages.
But he dreams that in five years he can transform an education system – known as much for a few exceptions like Ms. Dev as for its drop-outs and the creation of a functionally illiterate population – into one that is “world class and globally competitive.”
That race and race relations for the PPP are the imagination of a few aging malcontents is evident from the failure of the Manifesto to recognise those issues or to acknowledge the International Year for People of African Descent.
One wonders whether the leaders of the private sector in attendance including Clinton Williams, Norman McLean, Ramesh Dookhoo and others noticed that nowhere is the private sector or the manufacturing sector mentioned in the Manifesto. Good for them.
But Labour, too, got no mention and one is left to wonder for how much longer the Jagdeo-Nadir $800 per day minimum wage will drive the pay policy of the PPP/C. No mention of the depressed communities or efforts to stamp out corruption or to integrate the corrupt elements in the informal economy into the tax-paying formal economy.
Governance, too, is treated by omission. And for a man who was nurtured into the ideologically obsessed Marxist PPP, Mr. Ramotar’s Manifesto does not even mention the model of economic philosophy which his Administration will pursue.
Whoever wrote the section of the Manifesto on Information and Communication Technology (page 22) must have been smoking something. How in Edghill’s heaven’s name can Guyana produce 25,000 high-quality jobs over the next five years in computer engineering and software development? Perhaps we will import them from India or China as we will do for our tourism hospital.
Women who make up 51% of the population, Children, the Elderly and the Family get one page in the Manifesto at page 36 that includes a commitment to a comprehensive review of the NIS.
The PPP/C mismanagement of the NIS under the chairmanship of Dr. Roger Luncheon for the past nineteen years has placed the NIS at grave risk with outflows far exceeding inflows – three years earlier than the 2006 Seventh Actuarial Study had feared.
And youth who make up 46% of the voters share one page with Sports and Culture, although culture is noticeably missing in the plans for the next five years.
One can draw analogies from Alice in Wonderland or Aesop’s Fables but perhaps the most appropriate assessment of the PPP/C manifesto was offered by their own former Minister Dr. Henry Jeffrey who told the nation on Plain Talk last Sunday that he could not vote for the PPP/C on the basis of this Manifesto.