Dealer blows lid on Education Ministry’s book scam…Billions spent on outdated text books
FEBRUARY 26, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
– manipulates procurement procedures
“You have to understand that there is no clear-cut text book policy in Guyana. Many of the books being ordered…there is no way to determine whether they are relevant to the curriculum or not. So books are being ordered and sometimes even the teachers don’t want them.”
A local book dealer is calling on President Donald Ramotar to immediately launch an investigation
Former Minister of Education Shaik Baksh
into the system of text book ordering. He is claiming that there are widespread irregularities and fraud involved in the process.
According to Bholan Boodhoo, owner of the Horizon Bookshop in Alberttown, and a long time dealer of text books, the procurement system is deliberately being manipulated so that specific companies are granted the contract.
The Auditor General’s report covering government accounts of 2010, excerpts of which were published in this newspaper last Sunday, found instances in which hundreds of millions of dollars were written up in cheques, months before the contracts were awarded.
It not only signaled that there were serious irregularities but also that there was the shocking possibility that the procurement process in Guyana through the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board may have been compromised.
The report also suggested that books were also being partially delivered.
Kaieteur News was told that people high up in the Ministry of Education and specific dealers awarded the contracts, deliberately delivered short and would split the proceeds.
Text books dealing in Guyana is a billion dollar business.
According to Boodhoo, the way the procurement system is being run in Guyana is hugely unfair to other dealers and may even threaten the level of education in the country.
“You have to understand that there is no clear-cut text book policy in Guyana. For many of the books being ordered…there is no way to determine whether they are relevant to the curriculum. So books are being ordered and sometimes even the teachers don’t want them. They are distributed in the schools and left in the storeroom.”
Another major issue over the ordering of text books is that a large percentage ordered are called infringed copies– photocopies. A business on West Coast Demerara (name given) is the main supplier of photocopied text books.
“This is a clear violation of several regional and international laws. It saves money but how could a ministry and government by extension, sanction an illegality? We have legitimate book dealers in Guyana who are answerable to their companies.
Text book dealer, Bholan Boodhoo
“We have books that we are scared to even put on shelves because they are being bought and then photocopied or infringed and then resold,” the businessman said.
Many of the contracts awarded are through sole sourcing procurement procedures, meaning that the Ministry has already decided which company will get the contract.
“This is clearly a breach of what sole tendering is all about. For one company to be eligible as a sole tender, the ministry will have to show that it can’t buy from anywhere else and the orders must be with all the relevant specifications included.
“This may be true if you are ordering a Wartsila engine or Caterpillar set…then you will have to go to the company that makes them. In the Guyana case, only some books could be ordered through sole sourcing…not all as is being done,” Boodhoo stressed.
However, in many cases, the contracts are just being awarded as sole sourcing without evidence being presented that the books are not available elsewhere.
And how is it being done?
“On the approval granted by the Cabinet, the list will more than likely have general descriptions of texts but no names of the books wanted. This is another way in which legitimate dealers are being shafted because they don’t have a clear idea of what is needed.”
In many cases, the Ministry of Education just does not advertise for the books.
“In the absence of a Procurement Commission, it is hard to complain,” the dealer said.
That commission is the body which would have heard complaints being filed by aggrieved parties on alleged instances where government’s procurement processes were not followed. The commission, despite public clamouring, has not yet been established by the government.
“Many of the books being ordered are not revised and outdated.”
At least three businesses are now selling infringed copies of text books at a fraction of the costs. One is located in Water Street and another on Croal Street.
“Those infringed copies are of poor qualities and in black and white in most cases. In almost all the cases the businesses selling the books are not dealers or are just not authorized.”
Meanwhile, Kaieteur News was told that when text books are purchased, whether they are infringed or not, they are delivered to the Ministry of Education’s Book Distribution Unit.
The Auditor General report on the Ministry’s 2010 accounts found that in most cases, records of that unit did not match up with what was ordered. Insiders are saying records are deliberately not being provided to state auditors.
In most cases, the Book Distribution Unit is not provided or made aware of what was ordered from the supplier…only what is being delivered.
Further, even records being kept at the unit are poor and sources at the Education Ministry again say that this is deliberately so that in cases of checks, it will be hard to track instances of short delivery, among other fraudulent activities.
In the Auditor General’s report of the 2010 accounts, auditors found one instance where a massive $110M order was made for text books but two cheques for the amount were made months before the contract was awarded.
According to the report, the fact that the payments took place in the fourth and ninth months of 2011, confirms the use of a strategy to defeat the controls as set out in the government’s Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMA), by the withdrawal of sums appropriated in one year and holding them for extended periods for spending in another year during the life of another Appropriation Act.
“It is even more disturbing that such a serious breach is aided and abetted by the Ministry of Finance, through a process in which stale dated cheques are extended for use at current dates. This was the case of the second cheque which was updated on June 9, 2011.”
In charge of the Ministry at the time was Minister Shaik Baksh, who was not included in the current Cabinet under new President Donald Ramotar. He was also embroiled in a questionable contract involving the delivery of computers to a number of schools.
In 2009, cheques were also written up days before the end of the year for book orders that would have been delivered in 2010, an occurrence that the state auditors found disturbing.
It was this same supplier who was given contracts in 2010 to the tune of $230M but cheques were drawn up in December 2009. There were several discrepancies also with those contracts including one that was “surprisingly” dated one year later on January 21, 2011.
According to the report, the Tender Board approval did not disclose details of the orders, including the book titles, authors, quantities or even costs.
On request, the Ministry of Education provided two contracts and three book lists that give details of the order.
“The Audit Office was unable to validate delivery on the orders, as the state of accounting at the Book Delivery Unit (BDU) made accounting for the books impractical. It should be noted that the BDU provided delivery invoices with supply details of several books. However, these invoices were not referenced to the related orders and did not include the prices of the books supplied.”
National Centre of Educational Resource Development (NCERD), an arm of the Ministry of Education, is the department that is reportedly in charge of ordering text books.
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.”
NOVEMBER 16, 2011 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) continued its countrywide campaign with a number of meetings in Berbice. One such meeting was held at the Junction of NO 41 Scheme in Stanleytown, New Amsterdam where a few hundred persons were in attendance. The feature speaker was APNU Executive Member and Leader of the Opposition Robert Corbin.
Corbin lashed out at the ruling Peoples’ Progressive Party/Civic for its incompetence and its lackadaisical performance which has destroyed Guyana.
He stated that the PPP is a party of deception, and conmen, who have been deceiving the Guyanese people for the last 19 years. He noted that Bharrat Jagdeo is the “chief deceiver and the chief trickster and con man.” Holding up a copy of the Sunday 13th November Kaieteur News, Corbin showed residents the photograph on the front page where Jagdeo “fooled the world that he was married to Vashnie Jagdeo. Conning everybody that he was married, what a shame. How can a President behave so low and have the gall to say things about people?”
“The PPP is in panic mode at the moment and we must vote them out,” Corbin stated.
Corbin stated that the PPP is in bed with the drug dealers and that this is the catalyst for all the bad things that are happening in Guyana at the moment.
He reminded residents about of the notorious Roger Khan, who stated that he worked with the Guyana government to fight crime. He mentioned a story told to him by a businessman who had closed his business and fled Guyana. According to Corbin, the businessman revealed that he had gone to see the President at Office of the President and Roger Khan was leaving at the same time. “He immediately became afraid, packed up and closed his business and left the country.”
Corbin reminded residents of the massacres that took place at Lusignan, Agricola, Bartica and Lindo Creek under President Jagdeo’s watch, for which no inquiry was ever held.
According to Corbin, newly converted Alliance For Change member Moses Nagamootoo was with the PPP for a long time “and if he could talk about the PPP banditry, corruption and thievery then you must believe him.”
Corbin said that when APNU had mentioned that the PPP was like Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, “They wanted to sue. But we were waiting for them. Now Nagamootoo who been with them say the ‘Robb Street’ gang make Ali Baba and is crew look like small boys.”
Corbin told the Berbicans that a vote for an APNU government is a vote for clean, lean and decent people to lead this country for the next five years.
“The Robb Street gang of thieves, yes men, soup drinkers and bandits are abusing power, and using their majority to bulldoze the Guyanese people. They must be stopped, and come November 28, the nation has that opportunity by voting for a clean APNU Government.”
“You must reject these sycophants, who are outdated and dealing in corruption, drug trafficking, threatening national security, the heart of discrimination, and simply put, dealing in bad governance.”
The PNCR Leader said that an APNU government will reduce VAT, ensure economic and infrastructural development, job-creation and investments in health, education and housing.
He went on to outline the qualifications of APNU Presidential Candidate and leader Brigadier David Granger and Prime Ministerial candidate Dr. Rupert Roopnarine who are by far the two most qualified and experienced campaigners who he said will lead Guyana with dignity.
By ARIF BULKAN | 0 COMMENTS | IN THE DIASPORA | MONDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2011
Arif Bulkan teaches human rights law at the University of the West Indies in Barbados.
What would an honest evaluation of the Jagdeo Presidency reveal? Its genesis lay in naked constitutional manipulation, for in the 1997 general elections Bharrat Jagdeo had not been elected as President or Prime Minister by the People. Thus when Janet Jagan disclosed in August 1999 that she could no longer continue as President due to her declining health, Jagdeo’s succession was contrived through a circuitous route. First, Sam Hinds was required to resign so that Jagdeo could be sworn in as Prime Minister on August 9th, and this was followed by Janet Jagan’s resignation and Jagdeo’s assumption of the Presidency on August 11th. This process gave fair warning to the Guyanese people of how slender national ‘democracy’ was, for in a country where one party has a stranglehold on power, the only hope of forestalling imperial rule is if that party’s internal structure has processes and mechanisms by which its leader(s) can be held accountable. But Jagdeo was a handpicked successor, revealing the imperial nature of the power possessed by the head of the ruling party and that party’s fundamentally undemocratic nature. More troubling was that his installation in office required the circumvention of the supreme law of the land, but this did not seem to give the PPP as an institution any cause for discomfort. All this was an ominous portent of things to come. Janet Jagan may have thought that she was installing a puppet – but just as she was able to exercise maximum power as President, so too was her creation eventually able to function, uncontainable even by her (there’s a lesson there for Jagdeo and Ramotar, but that’s another story).
Back in 1999, a battered electorate gave little thought to PPP intrigue, despite the very public manner in which events unfolded. Jagdeo’s youth represented a refreshing antidote to the old guard and party loyalists, and his selection on the eve of the millennium could have been taken to herald both literal and symbolic rebirth. And to be fair, in the intervening twelve years there have been instances where Jagdeo has demonstrated solid leadership – notably in the principled stand he took with regard to the Economic Partnership Agreement being forced down the region’s throats by the European Union, despite the considerable opposition of his counterparts in CARICOM. Sadly, however, for the most part Jagdeo’s rule has been a bitter disappointment, where any initial promise was quickly extinguished by an autocratic, intolerant, vindictive, incompetent and verbally abusive style of governance. I could go on, for there are many negative adjectives which can be used to describe Jagdeo’s presidency, but when I saw the photograph taken of the President at the India Day parade in New York City, I thought that it said it all.
This week’s column will focus on two prominent features of his presidency symbolised in the photograph: 1) the way in which he has consistently indulged himself, the public purse be damned, and 2) the way in which he has materially indulged his cronies, again without regard for the public purse.
Jagdeo’s personal financial dealings need little recounting. As I pointed out in an earlier column, the sale of his first state-subsidized house and land in Goedverwagting at a price that far exceeds market value and to Guyana’s consul in Trinidad and Tobago is one that reeks of impropriety and would have been immediately investigated in any functioning democracy.
Immediately after this sale Jagdeo acquired more state-subsidized lands, but at a price far below market value. A number of irregularities surrounded this second transaction: the President obtained more than 4 times the amount of land a re-migrant can purchase; he paid barely one-sixth of what a re-migrant would have had to pay; and the allocation to him was made by Cabinet in violation of standard policies that state-subsidized land is only to be distributed to persons who do not own or have not owned property in the previous 5 years. Most obscene of all, as pointed out by Bro. Eusi Kwayana, the lands awarded to the President form part of a post-emancipation village. That many of the descendants of those first villages still live in squatting areas while the choicest lands built through the sweat of working people are reserved for Jagdeo and his cabal of supporters, is a monstrous injustice.
It then emerged that 29 tons of building material was shipped to Jagdeo from alleged criminal Ed Ahmad. Mr. Ahmad has other unsavoury antecedents – in the US he “loaned” money to Congressman Meeks, which was only re-paid when the authorities commenced an investigation. Sometime before (or after) Ahmad sent the container of building material to the President, he secured lands from Guysuco on the West Bank. We will have to do the math, because unlike in the US, there will be no official investigation into these events.
Then it has been reported that on each trip abroad, Jagdeo receives a US$5,000 (G$1 million) out-of-pocket allowance over and above the funding for the trip, for which he does not have to account. Compare that to the minimum wage of G$35,000 per month and Guyana today is like France under the Bourbons (of the ‘let them eat cake’ period).
Then there is the presidential pension, which will afford Jagdeo a life of post-retirement luxury. How the $3 million monthly figure has been computed is a mystery to me. Under the law passed by Jagdeo’s minions in parliament many of the benefits are uncapped, so the cost to the taxpayer could conceivably exceed $3m given the standards presently exhibited.
A key feature of the Jagdeo Presidency is the majestic enrichment of a select cabal of his supporters. The examples are endless.
1.The recently released report of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee reveals major irregularities in public spending for the 2 years it reviewed (2007-8), including overpayments to contractors and payment to contractors for work that was not completed. It is public knowledge that the vast majority of national infrastructural works are awarded to a select few contractors. The latest in a long string of examples is the award to a favoured contractor, BK International, of a $138 million contract for upgrading the Supenaam stelling. This comes less than 2 years after BK drew down more than $400 million for work on the same stelling that was completely botched, leaving it unusable for over 2 years. In other words, the same company is being given more money for a job that it already bungled, when in the normal course of business it should be sued and ordered to repay or finish the job properly.
2. Or consider the case of the single-sourcing of drugs from New GPC by the Ministry of Health. This has been going on since 1997, and after 2003 in direct violation of the Public Procurement Act. Since 2003 the practice has been facilitated, arguably unlawfully, by Cabinet decision. Between 2003 and 2008, it resulted in over G$3 BILLION for New GPC. Single-sourcing of any good means that the purchase price may not be competitive, and as if that were not irregular enough, it was revealed in Parliament that the drugs were paid for up front – in other words, Guyanese taxpayers funded the company’s operations, something absolutely unheard of in business. To add insult to injury, New GPC’s parent company then turned around and loaned money for the construction of the Berbice River bridge at between 9-11% interest, which interest will not be taxed! As is well known, New GPC is a subsidiary of the Queens Atlantic (QA II) group of companies owned by the Ramroop family, one member of which is a close friend of none other than Jagdeo himself.
3. The same QA II was illegally granted certain tax concessions by the Jagdeo administration. When Mr. Yesu Persaud spoke of these concessions at the launching of Guyana Times on June 5th 2008, he was publicly attacked by the President. Later, when accountant & attorney Chris Ram exposed the administration’s lies on this point, the Jagdeo government hurriedly passed a law to retroactively legitimize their earlier, unlawful act.
4. In 2009 Fidelity Investment evaded taxes and customs duties in excess of $321 million, but even though customs officers raided their premises and found over 73,000 cases of Polar beer for which the company could provide no import documents, the case against the company was discontinued by the State with no explanation given to the special prosecutor or to the public at large.
5. Earlier this year the one laptop per family project was announced, but in the public domain there was much inconsistency regarding its cost as announced by the government. Worse, a price to be paid for each laptop was announced, even though the tender process had not even been commenced.
6. The Amaila Falls hydro-electricity project has been dogged by similar concerns over the cost of the project and the lack of transparency surrounding the bidding process. All that is known to the public at this stage is that there is a US$200 million gap in the actual cost of construction and the original estimate given (the latter has since increased by another US$135 million, making that gap now US$335 million). Where or to whom is that extra money going?
7. Earlier this year the government leased almost 2 million acres of land to a businessman from India for 30 years at G$394 (yes, a little less than two US dollars per acre). Again, this lease was not the subject of a transparent or competitive bidding process, and Guyanese do not know what other benefits attend the deal. Does it attract special tax concessions? How come the company is reportedly being allowed to export species for which there are existing bans in the law?
One can continue to list the secretive and scandalous deals by this government, but the underlying features are similar. Principally, key oversight institutions have been either run into the ground by the government or are simply not functioning. Anand Goolsarran, who as Auditor General brought many irregularities to light, was run out of office in 2004 when he attempted to investigate a dolphin scandal involving the President’s adviser. Since then, the vacancy left by Dr. Goolsarran’s departure has not been permanently filled, so even were the incumbent minded to act courageously the precariousness of the position is an obvious impediment. The government refuses to appoint a Public Procurement Commission, which means that there is no transparency in and scrutiny of the procurement of goods and services and the execution of public works. This state of affairs facilitates overpayment and shoddy performance. Most of the beneficiaries of this largesse tend to be friends and associates of the President, hence the charge of cronyism. Where foreigners are involved, the deals are invariably negotiated in secret. The end result is the stifling of competition, a higher cost of living, and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a favoured few.
Add this up and the picture is clear. Notwithstanding the low salaries, unlivable pensions and general impoverishment of most Guyanese, President Jagdeo shamelessly grabs whatever he can for himself (and his chosen friends) – lands, container of goods, lavish US dollar allowances, overseas trips, maids, gardeners and pension for life – wherever he is, and irrespective of who is looking on. In next week’s column I will conclude by examining the intolerance and decay that, taken together with the cronyism, characterise Jagdeo’s 12 year period of rule.
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,
NAGAMOOTOO’S LAW OFFICE
35 North Road & King Street, Lacytown, Georgetown, GUYANA.
MOSES V. NAGAMOOTOO, M.P., LL.B., L. E.C., J.P., COA.
24th October, 2011
Mr. Donald Ramotar
People’s Progressive Party
Robb Street, Lacytown
Dear General Secretary,
I WILL CONTINUE TO SERVE MY BELOVED GUYANA
The purpose of this letter is to announce my resignation from the Central Committee and as a member of the PPP with immediate effect.
Further, I confirm what I told you on October 1, 2011, that I would not subscribe my name to the PPP’s List of Candidates for the 2011 National Elections, nor would I feature on the party’s platform. My position therefore is irreversible.
I therefore request that the PPP/Civic refrain from further using my speeches and interviews from previous campaigns, and distorting same, to fool my supporters and the Guyanese electorate that I am campaigning in 2011 for the PPP/C.
I have now brought closure to my association with the PPP, which started 50 years ago in 1961, though I did not become a member until October, 1964. I came through the ranks to become Vice-Chairman of the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO), Secretary of the National Students Committee, Member of the PPP Central/Executive Committees and Secretariat; and Member of Parliament/Minister of Government.
I have always used my vast experience and knowledge in various positions to benefit the party and our people. I now walk with clean hands and a clear conscience.
I have been critical inside the party as I have been bold outside, in the prosecution of our struggles and efforts to make our Guyana a better place. In more recent years, I had taken a consistent stand over erosion of internal democracy, corrupt practices, security lapses and arrogant, autocratic leadership.
During 2004-2006, serious disagreements over corruption and national policies led to my withdrawal from the party leadership, but I returned to the 2006 elections platform to preserve party unity, and to defend the gains we have made from struggles and sacrifices of our supporters.
I stand by every single word that I had uttered in 2006 – that the PPP was my home; that we shared a vision for the future based on Cheddi Jagan’s core principles, which could be summarized in two words – “lean” and “clean”. Unfortunately, the leadership has betrayed its promises as well as these values. As much as I loved our “home”, there was just no space for me to help make it accountable, responsible and free from corruption. The recent, awful disclosures by WikiLeaks should at least remind the leadership that “Moses had told us so!”
I was hounded from the party leadership. For protesting against wrong-doings I was deemed to have resigned from the party’s Executive Committee. Then after the 2008 Congress, I was excluded by devious methods.
I have lost all faith in the current leadership. My association with the party has been compromised, and I can no longer in good conscience remain on the Central Committee or serve as a party member. I will not condone or be a part of any bullying, corruption and authoritarianism, more especially when these decaying practices emerged inside the organization to which I had dedicated all my life and to which I have given my finest efforts as activist, journalist and government minister.
The most grievous of these practices were public attacks on me for standing up against the threat to derecognize the sugar workers union, GAWU, and the exclusion of party members in what was a flaw-dulent process by which the presidential candidate for the 2011 elections was selected. The elementary practice of consultation was derailed.
My fight for political democracy was not against any personality but about principles and procedures and, above all, for the preservation of the integrity of the party. But I was nevertheless publicly maligned, labeled a “loser”, and bulldozed.
I had come to the conclusion that a cabal had hijacked the PPP to serve narrow agendas of personal power, privileges, perks and pensions over dedicated duty to our people.
Since I first entered politics in 1961, I have travelled the long, bumpy and sometimes, treacherous road. I am proud that I took the stand that I did, against dictatorship, for unity, democracy, press freedom and good governance.
Though our work has begun, my dream for a developed, prosperous and secured land remains unfulfilled. So I give notice that I will continue to serve my beloved Guyana. I promise to work with all patriots to bring healing, unity and lasting peace to our nation; to make our country grow, and to provide bread with equality and justice for all our people; to meaningfully help the poor, powerless and marginalized, and give hope and security to our new generation.
Moses V. Nagamootoo
I pray to allow me to share with citizens some experiences over the weekend.
They speak to real but worrying conditions existing in our beloved Guyana.
At a function on Sunday evening in the village of Crane, West Coast Demerara, I met a seventy-six year old Guyanese born retiree living in Delaware, USA. Painfully he related some experiences, He was unhappy at the sharp decline in standards since his last visit. He was in a hire car when a Police Patrol stopped it – after a brief exchange, he observed the driver of the hire car take a bag of rice from his trunk – the police took it and drove off.
Next he related that he spent part of his childhood in the Golden Grove, Nabaclis area and reading about the many contracts and the wonderful things coming from the Ministry of Education, he was surprised to find the school in the village in such a sorry state.
Finally, he lamented that as an ex-police, our police and teachers are still poorly paid.
After leaving that village, I noticed a convoy of vehicles – enquiries revealed that they were part of a large number of vehicles including sugar estate vehicles that were commissioned to take persons to and from the PPP Rally in Kitty.
One Linden resident told us he was given $3,500 as a meal allowance to attend the said rally.
The previous evening a young man came forward at the vigil on Main Street protesting the ban on Channel 6 – he openly related how he was asked how much he needs to read a Martin Carter poem at the event to commemorate United Nation Year of People of African Descent’, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport and held at the National Stadium.
When the sum of five thousand dollars was mentioned he was told that more was available. He explained to those of us gathered on the Main Street Avenue, why he refused to sell his soul, but having heard of the vigil came and asked permission to recite the poem, he was allowed and duly did so.
It is clear, the PPP and the government are in possession of substantial sums to purchase support and are in the business of rent a crowd and glitter.
Buses were seen lined up from the Kitty Market to the Sea Wall.
The PPP has been in office for almost two decades, ought they need for such tactics, but they know full well that history repeats itself, and we would always have those to whom money is just about everything.
Kaslay noted. “Money is a bottomless sea, in which honour, conscience and truth may be drowned.”
Let us hope that such persons who take these incentives know how to exercise their franchise so as to avoid future indignities.
Hamilton Green, JP