“It was barefaced thieving,”– Ramjattan
The Alliance for Change (AFC) along with the other Parliamentary Opposition party, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) will be using its combined majority in the National Assembly to seek to push for the investigation, prosecution and subsequent incarceration of Public and Government officials found to have been guilty of corrupt practices and financial irregularities.
AFC Presidential Khemraj Ramjattan said that during the political campaign that his party had committed itself to having corrupt Government officials be held accountable. He said his party will work with APNU to push for some of the Parliamentary Standing Committees to investigate the actions of some of the Public and Government officials.
Ramjattan said that they will be using bodies such as the Economic Services Committee and the Public Accounts Committee among others where they can determine if enough evidence exists to have these persons prosecuted and should the Director of Public Prosecution Shalimar Ali-Hack fail to act in the face of evidence then private action will be taken against her as well.
Ramjattan said that one of the many issues that the parliamentary opposition would want to re-open is a proper investigation into the Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO Guyana) fallout.
Ramjattan is on record and was also upbraided by the Parliamentary Committee which was tasked with investigating the fallout but was later rendered useless according to him as they were only watered down to reading newspaper headlines of the fallout.
Ramjattan was upbraided by the then Committee Chairperson for speaking to the media at the time for venting his frustration at the role to which the committee was downgraded.
He said that there will also be an investigation into the transfer of the assets of Sanata Complex, Ruimveldt, to the present owners. Many of the actions leading to the transfer of the assets to Queens Atlantic International Inc. (QAII) are not clear.
Ramjattan spoke, too, of the matter involving the re-appointed Minister of Housing and Water Irfaan Ali against whom a prima facie case was made out for contempt of Parliament in relation to misleading the National Assembly on a $4B allocation.
That matter was never heard and according to Ramjattan died a slow death as the Ninth Parliament was dissolved thereby making it next to impossible to have the matter heard again.
Ramjattan posited that the parliamentarians in the opposition benches must also use their majority in the House to impress upon the populace that importance of and nexus between their impoverished state and its direct link to corruption.
He said that it is of paramount importance that the populace and electorate at large understand the link between their poverty and corruption.
Ramjattan was also adamant that they will be taking the Director of Public Prosecution Shalimar Ali-Hack to task for not undertaking criminal proceedings against public officials where there is enough evidence.
On Friday last the world observed World Anti-Corruption Day and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had advocated for the corrupt officials to be shamed. Ramjattan is adamant that they should be jailed.
During the Anti-Corruption seminar the Senior Coordinator of Transparency International, Zoe Reiter, had admonished that anti-corruption laws are meaningless if there is no enforcement.
Reiter when she made the pronouncement was at the time responding to Government Adviser Gail Teixeira, who was seeking clarification as to why some of the countries in the Region scored better than Guyana on the 2011 World Corruption Perception Index.
Guyana ranked 134 out of 183 countries analysed in the world by Transparency International and scored 2.5 out of 10 with zero being the worst.
Corruption continues to plague too many countries around the world, according to Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index on December 1.
“It shows some governments failing to protect citizens from corruption, be it abuse of public resources, bribery or secretive decision-making.”
Transparency International warned that protests around the world, often fuelled by corruption and economic instability, clearly show citizens feel their leaders and public institutions are neither transparent nor accountable enough.
“This year we have seen corruption on protestors’ banners be they rich or poor. Whether in a Europe hit by debt crisis or an Arab world starting a new political era, leaders must heed the demands for better government,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International.
Reiter in her recent presentation did caution that making significant inroads in the fight against corruption will take time and advised that corruption is a non-partisan problem that will require non-partisan solutions.
She cautioned, also, that corruption was at the root of all of the major upheavals across the world in 2011.
Reiter added, “Government cannot tackle corruption with symbolic gestures.”
Despite miles of distance and years of time our history emerges to explain the past, clarify the present and predict the future.
Recently, while at a park in Vancouver, British Columbia, I said hello to an elderly gentleman who was reading and enjoying the view and tranquility of the setting on the banks of one of the tributaries of the Fraser River. The retired gentleman saw my ‘University of Guyana’ golf shirt. He asked if I was from University of Guyana or worked there. I said I was a UG graduate and also worked there for a short time.
Further in conversation he revealed that he was well acquainted with Guyana. He said he had been involved in the wholesale purchase of rum from Guyana for his company. He mentioned the name of a well-known company and the production of rum there.
He was impressed with the professionalism and the facilities. He said he enjoyed both his tour of the factory and stay in Guyana. This was during the regime of the late Mr. L.F.S. Burnham. With such detailed information about the times, places and events, I took him seriously.
What he said next in our conversation was revealing. The price negotiated for a gallon of rum was fair, but the person doing the negotiating wanted half of the negotiated price to be deposited into an overseas account. This half-price would be publicly stated as the full price paid. For example, if he paid two British pounds (£2) per gallon of rum, one pound (£1) went as the purchasing price to Guyana and one pound (£1) went into the overseas account.
The gentleman did not mention who was/were the person or persons benefitting from the overseas account, or if the account was then used by the company as a deposit for foreign exchange. He indicated that this kind of scheme was almost standard operating procedure when dealing with corrupt governments and companies.
His wife arrived so the topic of the conversation changed and I was denied the opportunity to ask more questions.
We cannot go back and change what happened or try to hold person(s) responsible for defrauding shareholders and the people of Guyana, but we can learn from the past.
We have raised the issue of non-accountability of grant aid several times (since about 2002) in the media with regards to funds from a European Union (EU) grant to repair and refurbish the biology laboratories at UG. The contractual obligations were never fulfilled, for example, no quality control as evidenced by shoddy workmanship, inferior materials and no value for money.
So far despite the public evidence of corruption, no one was ever held accountable by the University Administration or the Government-controlled University Council. UG is a microcosm of the larger Guyanese society, the contractors, with tacit approval of public officials got away with defrauding our children, youth and all Guyanese.
In addition no further foreign aid was given to UG.
Now the levels of corruption (besides being more systemic, endemic and regarded as normal in the financial dealings of the current administration) have reached new heights of human shamefulness with further degradation and impoverishment of Guyanese.
We have been seeing more and more of the awarding of gifts of land and/or contracts to personal friends of the people in high places of this PPP Government. Curiously, these high profile individuals awarded these distasteful deals have overseas-based offices and some with even questionable professional credentials and expertise.
One therefore wonders if monies are not similarly delivered into overseas accounts for the generous contracts or gifts (‘sweetheart deals’) given to these friends of Guyana’s public officials. Being personal friends of Govt. officials it is easy to understand how some unscrupulous business people would be involved in such questionable practices, since both participants benefit financially.
Now we can understand why high profile and honest legitimate companies are not awarded contracts in Guyana since these companies would not risk involvement in shady deals; whereas, disreputable enterprises get these generous contracts without being held accountable. Why are so many contracts awarded to companies from countries which have corruption-tainted governments, and where no accountability and transparency are required by their laws?
In addition, money can also be invested in overseas businesses where Guyanese officials are the silent partners in various enterprises. During the Burnham PNC reign, we were told by the PPP that gold was leaving Guyana in the diplomatic pouches. We have to ask the PPP whether cash and/or gold are similarly leaving and entering the country. It would be a perfect money laundering scheme.
Guyanese should ask for Govt. officials to declare their overseas assets, or demand the adoption of global schemes like Publish What Your Pay (PYUP) or the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Currently, Guyanese officials are often in the USA (New York and Florida – enclaves of these friends of the PPP) and treasure their US visas.
We should wonder about the frequent foreign trips made by Govt. officials. Many PPP politicians and business friends likely have accounts and investments in North America in case their PPP Government collapses and insurrection and circumstances beyond their control make their profitable stays untenable.
We seem to be caught on a treadmill or recurrent nightmare where a few profit and the country and its people disintegrate into poverty, hopelessness and unemployment.
Despite the grandiose announcements of various projects, our people are fleeing to survive. How long do we bend ourselves as the pains of our oppressors are inflicted on us and our children? Should we not end these cycles of punishment by removing the whips from the oppressors’ hands?
OCTOBER 5, 2011 | BY KNEWS| FILED UNDER LETTERS
So the Ramotar Campaign is off and what a start! Last count showed some 10,000 “trucked people” from all over Guyana for a typical PPP “wine and grind” session. In 1992, Dr. Jagan had 25,000 Berbicians rallying to his call for time for change, but today this pitiable cabal has to scrape all over Guyana to muster 10,000 people. What a step down for Team Ramotar.
But let us get to the substantive points Donald raised since the AFC will win this elections on issues rather than following the PPP style of promising and not delivering (Duckism).
Mr. Ramotar pledged at Albion that he would “build a modern Guyana if elected with greater focus on cheaper energy”. So what was Jagdeo doing all along? Running around the mulberry bush! Did Donald wake up Sunday morning for the first time in his life?
This Ramotar cabal speaks with a forked tongue. In 2006, this is what the Ramotar cabal said in their manifesto “We intend to make reliable and affordable electricity available to all Guyanese and industries.”
Five years after and our people are still waiting for this carrot from these bogus leaders, who eat the people’s grape, drink the people’s wine and throw the grape seed at the people telling them to eat and be happy.
Well for 19 years the people had no choice since the PNC was an incompetent and ineffective opposition party that still cannot move away from its race-based foundations. Today, however, the PPP is faced with a formidable multi-racial political force in the form of the Alliance for Change (AFC) and we sense that the people are in the mood to share licks like peas on the PPP come elections day.
But to expose these empty promises some more, Donald talks about “investigating bio-fuel”. If one is to follow the PPP record on bio-fuel it was “dead on arrival” after the “treaty of convenience” with one Mr. Duprey from Trinidad .
Mr. Duprey got his fame from the CLICO conglomerate that lost $6.8 billion of Guyana’s money. The long and short was he wanted 100% of Guyana’s molasses for among other things –ethanol production, when Guyana had a proposal on the table from a reputable Brazilian conglomerate to produce bio-fuels.
For dubious reasons, the political sponsors of Ramotar chose Duprey. Luckily, Yesu Persaud sued and saved Guyana from another CLICO-related fiasco. Jagdeo got mad and here we are 10 years after still talking about bio-fuels rather than reaping the benefits for the people. No jobs, no future thanks to the PPP.
The AFC speaks about actually developing a bio-fuel industry creating thousands of new jobs in the sugar belt and in the coconut industry. This industry will be formulated in a transparent manner with a clear aim of creating over 1,500 new jobs in sugar and coconut with reputable bio-fuel companies in Brazil and India.
The opening dialogue has already started and once in Government, we will conclude. Can you see the difference from the Action for Change Party and the Perpetually Promising Party?
Donald talks about “energy being more expensive than our neighbours’” yet he sat as General Secretary of the PPP for more than 14 years and did nothing about this crisis. He watched as President Jagdeo spent billions of dollars on fuel guzzlers at GPL and now he asks you to trust him to change course?
But the truth is the PPP cannot deliver on hydro. If we vote PPP, we will just be setting ourselves up for another Skeldon Factory, more pain, and more losses all funded by the taxpayers.
Why is Ramotar not explaining to the people how many jobs he will create, when and where in Guyana ? Why is he ducking the debate on jobs?
The AFC will create more than 8,000 new jobs in its first terms as a result of public policy measures flowing from our Action Plan. We will be creating jobs in the sugar belt, in the coconut belt; we will be creating some 2,000 new jobs across Guyana building computers in Guyana, by Guyanese for all Guyanese school. We will spend less money per computer than the PPP by importing the parts and building the computers at the industrial estates at Coldingen, Hampshire, Linden, Essequibo, and Rupununi.
So dance on Donald to the chutney queen Fiona, dance on. While you wine and grind, the AFC is concluding its work to fund the 20% salary increase across the board for civil servants.
Our technical team will deliver on the promise of our Presidential Candidate Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan and our Prime Ministerial Candidate Mr. Raphael Trotman, to pay the workers 20% wages and salary increase in the public service.
We will also deliver on the AFC promise of reducing the VAT from 16% to 12%. We will deliver on increasing the tax threshold for workers to $50,000 per month. We will deliver on reducing the PAYE rate from 33% to 25% by the end of the first year of the Ramjattan Government.
So dance on Donald, dance on, while the AFC “Government in waiting”, prepares public policies that are pro-poor and designed to grow worker’s productivity.
Bharrat Jagdeo is delusional, Guyana does not have money to even build a bus depot, much less build a railway.
This is the PPP government attempt to bring the dismantling of the last railway into public discourse as an election gimmick. The president should come out and say outright that the PNC got rid of the railway, instead of promising a railway to poor people, that will never materialize in his lifetime. This is PPP’s way of getting re-elected at all cost.
The reason that Jagdeo is saying this and not Donald Ramotar, or the PPP, is that years down the road when people ask where is the “promised railway”, PPP can always claim that Bharrat Jagdeo was delusional and on the way out when he made that promise, so the people cannot hold the PPP responsible. Jagdeo claims of increasing population highlights his delusional ramblings, since more than 150,000 Guyanese run from Guyana every decade, legally that is.
Jagdeo’s talk about hospitals and schools leave much to be desired, currently at Georgetown hospital patients share one bed, schools all over Guyana are in a deplorable condition, many have no windows, washroom are nothing more than pit latrines.
The president should have talked about how Guyana depends heavily on remittance and cocaine dollars to keep the economy growing, about Clico, florida real estate, promoted the failed Clico boss to the Guysuco board etc.
Railway system to be re-established in Guyana
A railway system would be re-established from Diamond, East Bank Demerara, to Mahaica, East Coast Demerara, says President Bharrat Jagdeo.
Guyana was the first country on the South American mainland to establish a railway. The first section, from Georgetown to Plaisance was opened on November 3, 1848.
The then government scrapped the railway in 1972 at the time fuel was cheap and the railway had become uneconomical. But oil did not stay cheap. By the mid-1970s the first oil crisis hit, fuelled by the war in the Middle East.
At the time it was scrapped the railway system had stretched from Rosignol in Berbice to Parika in Essequibo.
The then Prime Minister, the late Ptolemy Reid, later expressed regret at scrapping the railway.
Where the railway track was, is now the Railway Embankment.
Re-establishing this transport system is being done to offset the expected increasing traffic congestion on the East Bank Demerara in light of the housing and commercial expansions in the stretch, Presdient Jagdeo said.
His comments came at the one-stop exercise to award about 1,000 persons with house lots in the new housing development at Eccles, East Bank Demerara.
At the One Stop Shop activity held on Thursday at the National Stadium, Providence where the lots were distributed, President Jagdeo revealed that Government would be accessing more land from GuySuCo to expand housing.
He noted that two years ago Government purchased the land from GuySuCo for $4B and it is now being distributed as such this is not an election gimmick. Furthermore, Government would be acquiring more land from the entity.
It was revealed that in the first phase Government is seeking to establish 10,000 house lots.
Other improvements earmarked for the transportation sector are the extension of the four-lane road from Providence to Timehri and an alternative road would be constructed from Mocha to Ogle.
Moreover, the provision of jobs for the increasing population would be available as a shopping mall would be constructed and three call centres are expected to setup businesses in the area. In addition a new modern airport would be constructed.
However, land space would be left for commercial industrial development.
The East Bank would also benefit from additional secondary schools so that children can attend learning institutions close to their homes.
Already, the district has a hospital at Diamond and with the 300 doctors that are expected to return home soon would boost the facility’s human resources capacity.
President Jagdeo emphasized that in America 10 million persons lost their homes owing to the economic crisis and four million persons are expected to loose the homes as they are in the foreclosure market. In addition, millions have lost their jobs.
However, unlike the Caribbean countries Guyana’s economy kept growing owing to preparatory works done in relation to fiscal management.
Guyana’s budget is $164B and the country is borrowing less and spending more of its own money. Previously the country was borrowing more than it could have afforded and this resulted in a high foreign debt.