APRIL 4, 2013 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
There are three grave tragedies of the Guyanese condition created or magnified by our divisive politics since 1950. One is the scourge of racism and ethnic polarization. Another is moral and psychological degradation of the nation. The third is economic impoverishment.
The first and the last elements have always existed in this land since the events pre- and post-Emancipation reshaped this landscape. The moral and psychological degradation of the Guyanese people before the arrival of the bitter struggles of the PPP and the PNC was limited to the immoral domination by the bourgeoisie of the working class.
The working class majority itself was peaceful, hardworking and decent-minded people grounded in justice and fairness in a sharing and crime-free working class stratum despite their sufferings. That changed with the arrival of the PPP and the PNC. They introduced full-scale ethnic division and racial apartheid politics to Guyana.
They caused their constituencies who were 85% of the population to adopt morally fraudulent and catastrophic positions out of this racial division. It was no longer what was right, just or fair, but what was racially opportunistic.
Negative ethnic generalizations and stereotyping became full-blown diseases under their reigns. All Africans were the PNC and all Indians were the PPP.
Moral hypocrisy strutted supreme. A dictatorial PNC government was to be overthrown by a Stalinist PPP party that crushed democracy. PNC socialism injected with healthy communist action (see nationalization) was condemned by the PPP and its supporters who advocated in the same breath the replacement with a communist state. PNC supporters sinfully accepted the atrocities of the PNC government just like PPP supporters support the abominations of the PPP government today.
In the grand circle of irony, these two groups of supporters have become one and the same. This moral undermining of the nation that took place in the racial-political struggles of the fifties and sixties have left an indelible stain on this nation’s psyche and morality. Even today, there are calls for the repetition of these stereotypes as evidenced during the 2011 election campaign when Bharrat Jagdeo reminded those who endured the PNC struggles to recall those experiences for the youths of today.
The moral damage was not limited to the psychological operations of the PPP and PNC and their race-driven political orgy. It has to do with the economic woe the PPP and PNC left this nation. Both of these parties have been dismal economic managers. Despite its working class rhetoric, the PPP’s economic management from 1957 to 1964 was a failure that saw economic decline and hardship for the working class along with increasing corruption.
The PNC was handed an economy in gradual decline in 1964 and took it over the precipice with a reckless socialist policy accompanied by corruption and mismanagement. In 1992, the PPP got a destroyed economy that was beginning to grow again and has delivered modest growth in an era of the greatest worldwide economic growth. The modest gains the PPP achieved have been largely shifted by deliberative government policy into the hands of a new upper class who benefit from the largesse and corruption of the PPP.
All of this economic mismanagement has pushed the majority of this country to moral corruption in order to survive. Not only do they have to work for immoral government, they are constantly morally debasing themselves in order to obtain a basic modicum of decent living. Even worse, this is now instinctive and normal for many.
By allowing illegal activity like drug trafficking to flourish, the PPP has firmly destroyed the already wavering moral core of this country. Economic destitution leads to moral equivalency and Guyana since the fifties has been a prime example of this truism. We have people who condone or execute all manner of atrocity for fear of losing that laughable paycheque in a country of rampant unemployment.
In dictatorial governments, people become afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation and harm. The mind becomes Pavlovian, directed by the dictates of the regime. This is what has happened in Guyana since the fifties. Slavery was abolished some 175 years ago while Indentureship ended 96 years ago, yet this nation remains very much a plantation moved by race and economic survival. This gives us the constant moral massacre or the annihilation of the moral code of this nation.
Right and wrong is relative in this nation because there is no moral line left that cannot be crossed. Wrong is very right in Guyana and right is often wrong and illusory. We are a nation in a moral quagmire from which extraction requires sacrifice, which we lack.
In every country that has built itself from ruins, except Guyana, there is an unmissable connection between sacrifice and struggle and moral reclamation. In these countries, people struggle, scrimp, sacrifice and battle to improve their lot, but they also possess a powerful moral philosophy about it; that they will endorse those who will help them achieve their redemption and reject those who are morally abject.
In Guyana, we have a generally hardworking nation that somehow abandons that moral requirement that is vital to their ultimate advancement. If people refuse to attach moral expectations and demands to their struggles, they will inherit societies constantly derailed by the immoral leadership and political parties they refuse to change.
Convenient moral blindness produces no economic profit or advancement out of poverty. You cannot expect less choke-and-rob of your earnings when you allow more choke-and-rob of your taxes by the rulers of the state. Choke-and-robbers at the top lead to choke-and-robbers at the bottom.
Moral hypocrisy allows crooks to bully a populace. Moral convenience leads to an immoral society where vagabonds thrive and in such a society only a handful of the depraved are enough to demonize and crush the rest.
The PPP and PNC have destroyed the morale of this nation and wrecked its psyche. Too many are worried about how those of another race or class are voting or how their own race or class are voting and not focused on what is important to them. That self-focus, which is evident in wealthy nations, and which allowed a White-dominated society like the USA to elect a Black President, is grounded in that element of morality that is missing in Guyana.
Guyana most corrupt country in English-speaking Caribbean
DECEMBER 6, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
-watchdog body calls for Procurement Commission, new Integrity Commission,
“When desperately needed development funds are stolen by corrupt individuals and institutions, poor and vulnerable people are robbed of the education, health care and other essential services.”- UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon
Four days before the world observes the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day, new rankings have placed Guyana as the most corrupt country in English-speaking Caribbean countries.
According to rankings released yesterday by watchdog corruption body, Transparency International (TI), the 2012 Annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) has placed Guyana at a lowly 133 out of total of 174 countries. Guyana managed a miserly 28 points out of 100.
And in the presentation of the Transparency International findings, head of the local chapter, Attorney at Law, Gino Persaud, and Secretary Frederick Collins, both lauded Kaieteur News which has been highlighting corruption in Guyana.
The newspaper has been investigating the various contracts issued under questionable circumstances and examining the numerous projects, many of which were believed to be overpriced.
TIGI officials: From left is Vice-President, Dr. Anand Goolsarran; President, Gino Persaud and Director, Frederick Collins.
The results were released by Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. (TIGI), the local contact of TI.
TI would have conducted its surveys gauging perceptions to corruption by examining relations in the public sector, the local police, Customs, procurement and doing business.
The index has become a signature tool widely used around the globe to measure the perceived levels of public sector corruption in countries and looked at keenly by investors and multilateral lending agencies.
Denmark, Finland and New Zealand tie for first place with scores of 90, helped by strong access to information systems and rules governing the behaviour of those in public positions.
Guyana tied Comoros, Honduras, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Russia.
“This ranking places us at the bottom of the English Speaking Caribbean with only Haiti below us at 165. It is noteworthy that in the Caribbean, Barbados ranks at 15 with a score of 76; both St. Lucia and Bahamas rank at 22 with a score of 71 and St. Vincent and the Grenadines rank at 36 with a score of 62,” TIG’s President, Gino Persaud said during a press conference at the offices of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) on Waterloo Street.
Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia once again cling to the bottom rung of the index. In these countries, the lack of accountable leadership and effective public institutions underscore the need to take a much stronger stance against corruption.
At the press conference also were former Auditor General, Dr. Anand Goolsarran, who is TIGI’s Vice President; and Director, Frederick Collins.
Persaud, a lawyer, said that the advocacy body will be writing government on the findings of the index.
TIGI listed a number of measures that Government will have to implement to raise Guyana’s rankings. These include the appointment of competent and independent members of the Integrity Commission to scrutinize the financial disclosures of politicians and bureaucrats and with adequate staff and resources to ensure the Commission can adequately fulfill its mandate.
Persaud noted that Prime Minister Sam Hinds in June had promised to have new members of the Integrity Commission sworn within a week.
Among other things TIGI is also calling for the urgent appointment of members of the Public Procurement Commission to regulate government contracts and minimize their involvement; the implementation of modern anti-corruption legislation; implementation of whistle-blowing legislation; the enforcement of existing anti-corruption laws by investigating and prosecuting the corrupt and the strengthening of existing anti-corruption institutions such as the Guyana Police Force and the Financial Intelligence established under the money laundering legislation.
“These institutions are weak and unable to counter serious white collar crime and corrupt activities,” Persaud said in his read statement.
Guyana should also appoint an Ombudsman to address grievances from members of the public; ensure that all public monies are placed to the credit of the Consolidated Fund, and no public expenditure must be incurred without Parliamentary approval.
TIGI also called for all appointments to public offices to be advertised and made with due regard to technical competence, and not loyalty; and for the Access to Information Act passed in Parliament to be strengthened and made operational.
TIGI also called for the strengthening of civil society and for organisations such as the Guyana Bar Association, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Private Sector Commission, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and the Guyana Press Association to become more involved in combating corruption by speaking out against corruption and being proactive within its own membership on tackling corruption and by partnering with us for collective efforts.
“We call on the press corps to be more vigilant in acting as a professional, impartial and responsible watchdog body against corruption.”
According to Goolsarran, most countries are doing everything possible to “get to the top of the table” of rankings. He urged, as a start, that government accept the index in good faith and do something about it.
The officials drew reference to a judge in Brazil who targeted a number of politicians close to former President Lula and who was the laughing stock of many. The politicians were brought to trial.
Asked to comment on the impact of the findings, Dr Goolsarran said that serious investors use the findings by Transparency International to determine whether they would invest in a country. Many have opted to cancel plans for investment in Guyana.
TIGI is seeking funding now to educate Guyanese and will seek to meet with government and Members of the Parliament to discuss the issue which ultimately affects the way Guyana is perceived.
The TIGI officials refused to be drawn into answering questions whether President Donald Ramotar had done enough to tackle corruption in Guyana.
According to Collins, newspaper reporters and even the Auditor General’s annual report have been indicators of the situation of corruption in Guyana.
TIGI also disclosed that it has been asked by the Minister of Natural Resources to work with his Ministry on mining, an area which has been besotted with issues of corruption and lawlessness in recent years.
According to TIGI, the index demonstrates that corruption continues to ravage societies around the globe. Two-thirds of the 176 countries ranked in the 2012 index score below 50, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean), showing that public institutions need to be more transparent, and powerful officials held more accountable.
According to Huguette Labelle, the Chair of Transparency International, “Governments need to integrate anti-corruption actions into all public decision-making. Priorities include better rules on lobbying and political financing, making public spending and contracting more transparent and making public bodies more accountable to people. After a year of focus on corruption, we expect governments to take a tougher stance against the abuse of power.”
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon has said that corruption afflicts all countries, undermining social progress and breeding inequality and injustice.
“When desperately needed development funds are stolen by corrupt individuals and institutions, poor and vulnerable people are robbed of the education, health care and other essential services. All of us have a responsibility to take action against the cancer of corruption.”
The private sector, too, stands to gain enormously from effective action, he said. “Corruption distorts markets, increases costs for companies and ultimately punishes consumers.”
According to the BBC, corruption was the world’s most talked about issue in 2010 and 2011.
Auditor General’s findings on Region One just the tip of the iceberg
NOVEMBER 11, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
I am not surprised at the findings of the Auditor General with regards to the Contracts in Region 1. I am sorry but what has been disclosed is only the tip of the iceberg. Corruption in Region 1 is so rife. To get to the fishy deals, one has to travel up into the riverain areas where some buildings the size of fowl pens are called schools and teachers’ quarters. Yet the contract prices are astronomical. One only has to check the amounts paid for materials for building/repairing roads. Where are the roads?
There is a fuel depot at Morawhanna and yet the Administration purchases fuel from middle men. Morawhanna is across the pond from the Mabaruma Compound.
How is it that one previous REO collected accounts from some business people and some time after, turned up with cash to pay them. Has the Sub Treasury become mobile?
Like I mentioned, the Auditor’s report is only the tip of the iceberg. There is a huge chunk below surface, the likes of what ripped the Titanic open and caused it to sink.
The Opposition allows this universe of corruption in Guyana to grow and expand
NOVEMBER 4, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
I am replying to one of the East Indian extremists, Vassan Ramracha that lives in New York that shamelessly supports the PPP’s autocracy and tyranny in Guyana (see “Kissoon’s social contract and the blame game,” KN, Nov 2).
People like Ramracha can boast about the corrupt rule of the PPP (which this newspaper should win a UN medal for exposing corruption in this country) because the opposition beginning with the advent of Robert Corbin’s leadership and also including the pre-2011 AFC plus a dead civil society structure allowed this tyranny and corruption to grow and take over Guyana
Hopefully, it looks like Linden will put a stop to this autocracy as it relates to Linden. In five successive national elections, the opposition has won the constitutional administration of REGION FOUR but has not been given its constitutional right to administer this region.
As someone trained in history and political philosophy, I say most unambiguously, this would never happen in any other country anywhere in the world that is plural in nature and driven by a huge ethnic divide where the contending ethnic communities are equal in importance and numbers. I repeat, this has not occurred elsewhere and the leadership of the oppressed constituencies would not accept to be shifted from areas of control in the particular country where it won legitimate votes to govern
People like Ramracha in their zeal to publicly support the PPP are so silly that every time they open their mouths, they offer critics of the PPP golden opportunities to expose the fascist underpinnings of the PPP’s misrule. The most convenient example of this in Ramracha’s letter is the following statement; “Contrast Mr. Kissoon now living a privileged life of luxury with a big house in a gated community.” How stupid one can be. But this is the type of people the PPP attracts.
I am sixty years of age and only owned a home in 2007 after working for more than twenty years in an institution, the University of Guyana that pays what al of Guyana knows is a miserable salary. I drive a duty car that I bought since 1999. I live in an ordinary lower middle class house without any wealthy interior decoration. My home does not have a self-contained bedroom. The family used the same bathroom.
If Ramracha is looking for luxuries and luxury home, he should visit the mansions of Cheddi Jagan’s protégés. Ramracha has to be the most imbecilic supporter of the PPP. He doesn’t pay attention to what Donald Ramotar writes. Six years ago in these letter pages of this same newspaper. Ramotar wrote to say that he knows some businessmen helped me to build my home. Of course he is right. I didn’t have the wealth the PPP boys and girls got after they acquired power in 1992. In my column today I acknowledge I had received help in erecting my dwelling house.
I do not live in a mainstream gated community but in an area where GUYSUCIO gave almost free house lots (because of the almost next to nothing price) to its wealthy Indian hierarchy who had no uses for them because they already had their mansions. These lots were in turn sold far, far, far above market rates. The seller of my land was extremely generous not to be greedy. He did the moral and honorable thing. Two of the plots were possessed by the son-in-law of an infamous minister. Two of them are currently owned by a certain minister. There is only one reason for describing it as gated because it has one road in and one road out
Contrast my age and the meager resources of mine with little boys and girls who are the children and relatives of the PPP dynasty, who in 1992 when the PPP came to power were literally little boys and girls. Today these grown up boys and girls are owners of assets that match the resources of the traditional rich classes in Guyana. In my research for which Bharrat Jagdeo sued me, I documented who these people are. Some are young men who haven’t reached forty years as yet.
A certain Minister has put up his/her house for sale in Pradoville 2. An inquirer that I know told me the price is $US 1.2M (just above 200 million Guyana dollars). That Minister is not forty five years as yet and had no claims to previous resources. We know about a mansion and swimming pool of a Minister in REGION 3. We know of a Minister up the East Coast whose swimming poll is one of the most resplendent in the world with a lighting system that you find in the pools of American billionaires
Amidst these graphic facts, fools like Ramracha can point to someone like me with his idiotic claims of me living in luxury.
But Guyanese are glad to see these asininities from people like Ramracha because it gives some of us the space to further expose the moral and criminal bankruptcy of a party that the daughter of its founder, Nadira Jagan has boldly chastised for the decadent, wealthy lifestyle of its leaders. Imagine Ramracha talking about me living in luxury and Nadira Jagan and Ralph Ramkarran have written about corruption in the PPP administration, Yes, the PPP that Nadira Jagan’s father founded and that Ralph Rakarran helped to build. Let Ramracha write more so we can reply and show the rural folks what type of monsters control their country
Ramotar administration is a mirror image of the corruption, thievery, drugs & nepotism that were the hallmark of the Jadgeo
Donald Ramotar has lived up to the expectations of his detractors
NOVEMBER 4, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
It was clear to many political observers and other interested parties that the Peoples Progressive Party Civic, did not field the best candidate at the November 2011 elections. The critics at that time argued that Ramotar was weak and an untested; that he was not a critical thinker and had never held elected office or managed any complex governmental or non-governmental organization. Ramotar was perceived as a party hack, who was hand chosen by then president Bharatt Jagdeo, for all of the reasons mentioned.
However, in keeping with Stalinist tradition the other more prepared and credible candidates all bowed out and acceded to the dictate of the Jagdeo faction at Freedom House. To be fair there were voices that championed the candidacy of Donald Ramotar, they claimed that he was a man who had come from humble beginnings and was involved in the labour movement, that he was a fair and honest man; in other words he was not Jagdeo. Today as we approach the one year anniversary of the Ramotar presidency what I find interesting but not surprising is that the naysayers were right. Donald Ramotar the seventh president of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana has lived up to the expectations of his detractors; he is a weak, ineffective and visionless head of state.
In December 2011 at his inauguration president Ramotar told the nation that he would appoint his cabinet in two days and even flirted with the possibility of a cross-party government. Integrity, inclusivity and impartiality were the hallmark of a well balanced inaugural address; however, forty eight hours later Ramotar retained his predecessor’s cabinet, dashing all hopes for inclusivity, integrity and impartiality.
Within days of forming his new government, on December 6th 2011 peaceful demonstrators were shot by the police while processing in Georgetown. This was followed by a bitter budget debate that saw for the first time in recorded history a sitting government picketing against the parliamentary opposition. Ramotar had promised that he was prepared to work together with all the political parties and stakeholders, but when it came to the National Budget, his minority government was not prepared to work with the Parliamentary majority APNU/AFC.
The budget crisis spawned the Linden electricity crisis, when the PPPC government imposed on the people of Linden an undue hardship (an increase in the electric tariff), without negotiating or consulting with the peoples representatives. In his inaugural address president Ramotar spoke of the exciting task of creating opportunities for all Guyanese, yet within three months of taking office he was imposing a draconian tax on a community (Linden) where 70% of the people are unemployed or severely under-employed.
It was becoming quite clear that the new Head of State’s rhetoric were equidistant from his actions and his government’s treatment of the poor and depressed communities. As the situation escalated at Linden and the people and their Regional and national leaders called on the president to meet with them, to sit down and listen and consult, this president refused. Then came July 18th 2012 and three young men were brutally murdered after the Guyana Police Force again opened fire on peaceful protestors at the Mackenzie-Linden bridge.
The following day the president met with the Opposition Leader and Regional representatives, but by this time it was too late; property would be destroyed and more people would be shot by the police, all because of a government’s refusal to meet it constitutional mandate of consulting with the people and their elected representatives. Consumed by crisis, and showing no real flair for bold and innovative leadership, the Ramotar administration continued as a mirror image of the corruption, thievery, drugs and nepotism that were the hallmark of the Jadgeo years.
Once again innocents lives of young African men were taken, killed at the hands of the police; Shaquille Grant at Agricola; Dameon Belgrave in Georgetown.
In a side note, it was no surprise a few days ago that the longest serving member of the cabinet and president Ramotar’s Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee admitted under oath, when answering a question from Attorney Basil Williams(at the Linden Commission of Inquiry), that he(Rohee) was not a visionary. So, with a head of state that has proven to be weak, ineffective and visionless, surrounded by a cabinet that is mediocre for the most part, but generally less than stellar there is not much hope for the ensuing period of the Ramotar presidency.
Mr. Editor I truly searched for something complimentary to say about this period, but all I could find was controversy and conflict. In a country where most of the people would be classified as poor, the Ramotar government celebrates things and calibrates its development based on big buildings, poorly conceived roads and brand name hotels rather than human development.
The level of unemployment in this country is unsustainable, the under education of our children and the school dropout rate nationally is unsustainable, the crime situation and the lawlessness of our law enforcement agencies is unsustainable, yet this president has been deathly silent and has failed to lead on all of these important issues facing our nation.
Even if one graded on a curve it would be difficult to give this president anything but a failing grade in his first year in office.
AUGUST 12, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
…tells horror stories of GRA, Customs and greedy contractors
His letter writings in the daily newspapers are provocative, raising serious issues regarding life in Guyana. But all that may very well pale in comparison to what he did on Friday.
Gabriel “G.H.K.” Lall, who returned to Guyana in the early 2000s after living for 30 years abroad, has penned a book on corruption in Guyana, insisting that the issue is a deep-rooted one that may have to take leaders from both sides of the divide to help root out.
It may very well generate hot controversy and debate.
G.H.K. Lall with his insightful book on corruption in Guyana
Titled, “Guyana: A National Cesspool of Greed, Duplicity & Corruption (A Remigrant’s Story)”. The book is a brutally honest one, filled with strong descriptions of Lall’s experience with the Guyana Revenue Authority and “greedy” workers there.
Lall also told tales of being ripped off by contractors, scams by bank employees and auto dealers and even of corruption at the Deeds Registry.
The remigrant, now in his 50’s, does volunteer work in the education field.
The book, which was launched Friday to a small gathering at Marian Academy, chronicles Lall’s return to Guyana and a growing intolerance of the “corruption obscenity of public officials and fellow citizens.”
Among those present at the launching were trade unionists, former Auditor General Anand Goolsarran and Chief Executive Officer of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, Michael Khan.
Lall said that what he has written on corruption in Guyana is nothing new and is known to all Guyanese.
“It is not a story about one crooked public official, or one sleazy borrower, or one counterfeit contractor, or one traitorous family member. Rather, it is the accumulated, searing revelations highlighted from the journey of one man in the untamed jungles of Guyana,” the Preface informs.
It went further. “Greed and duplicity and corruption in Guyana cut across race – I have had terrible experiences with Indian, Black, Dougla and Amerindian folks: those I had the misfortune to deal with manifested certain common characteristics: a serious lack of scruples, a sense of entitlement and an unwillingness to travel the hard, grueling road of sacrifice.”
In one instance in the book, Lall whose wife has passed away, spoke of bringing in his prized possessions and being forced to fork over $150,000 after they were assessed as commercial and not personal items. It was the same attitude of corruption that he found at GRA while processing his application for duty free concessions.
“Corruption is not a Georgetown, Berbice or Essequibo problem but rather a “national” one,” he stresses.
The author described as an insult, the decision by the US Embassy not to accept local documents from Guyana when an application is made for a visa. He likened the revelations of corruption to incest, which nobody wants to talk about, but needs to come to light.
The remigrant, lauding Kaieteur News and Stabroek News for their exposure of corruption, urged for political leaders, professional bodies and other pressure groups to apply pressure to weed out a system that is deep-rooted.
Earlier, attorney-at-law, Gino Persaud, who also happens to be President of the Chapter of Transparency International, noted that corruption hurts everyone and feeds inequality.
“It affects the building of roads and schools, and payments to teachers, nurses and police and takes away resources from the masses, enriching a few,” Persaud stated
He also pointed out that it is a fact that Guyana has rated a lowly 134 out of 183 on the global Corruptions Perception Index.
Also speaking at the launching was former Auditor General Goolsarran who noted that he too returned to Guyana as a remigrant, only six months ago, and said he is “angry, sad and ashamed” at the corruption level in the country which is at the “crossroads”.
Goolsarran, an outspoken letter writer also, admitted to being targeted and even ridiculed by family members because of his stance on corruption. He urged for Guyanese to speak out more.
The book is being sold at the Austin’s Book Store, on Church Street.
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.
I was clean on NICIL’s financial affairs – Winston Brassington
MARCH 7, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
…but evidence points to questionable deals
Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington, has
justified his stead at the helm of the Privatization Unit.
Brassington chose to respond to queries about his integral role in having established Queens Atlantic Investment Inc (QAII).
Brassington in his missive to the Guyana Times and to the State Media (Guyana Chronicle) said “I have done my job with honesty and integrity and can stand up to whatever scrutiny is brought to bear.”
In 2008 when the illegality of the QAII deal was exposed, his colleague in government transactions, Geoff Da Silva, who headed the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) in speaking on the deal involving Brassington was forced to admit, “We made a mistake…We thought it was covered in law.”
The forum at which Da Silva made the revelation was “Guyana’s Privatisation and Taxation Policies and Practices” organised by the administration, in retaliation to comments made by local businessman, Dr. Yesu Persaud.
Persaud had said that concessions similar to those granted to QAII should be given to other local companies. This attracted a sharp response from none other than the then Head of State, Bharrat Jagdeo.
According to figures released by the Privatisation Unit, during the hosting of this seminar on Government’s privatisation and taxation policies and practices, between 2003 and 2007, the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) also granted some 285 companies concessions.
Up to 2002, 14 companies were either partially or totally divested while from 2003 in the second phase of privatization, 26 entities were privatised.
According to a Privatisation Unit report from 2003 there were 99 transactions from 29 Government entities. These were broken down into 26 privatization deals, 46 real estate transactions, and 27 restructuring/wind-up deals.
Of the 26 privatisation transactions, four were not advertised with two of these ending up in an employee sale in the case of Guyana National Newspapers Limited and an employee/management buyout in the case of Surapana Farms.
Of the remaining 22, three were negotiated and finalised after inadequate responses from advertising. These include Linmine and Aroaima Mining Company/Bermine.
Queens Atlantic Investment Inc (QAII) was actually a fourth but the seminar made no mention of the QAII deals in the initial presentations.
According to the Privatisation Unit, while proceeds from Phase 1 were more than $1.1 billion, gross proceeds from Phase Two exceeded $23 billion from privatisation/real estate transactions between the period 1994 and 2007.
At that time, in response to the queries surrounding the QAII investments, Brassington told the seminar that after the Chinese occupancy of the Sanata Textiles Complex in Ruimveldt came to an end in 2006, the government decided to tender for investment proposals.
The advertisements for the proposals were issued in December 2006 and ran until February 2007 after it was extended from January.
He also added that given that there was no suitable response from investors, at that time the government approached QAII to formulate a proposal.
In May 2007, QAII submitted its business proposal which the Privatisation Unit approved that very month. On May 15, 2007 Cabinet approved the lease proposals.
Brassington also admitted that what was advertised and the negotiated deal were different.
Dr. Ranjisingh ‘Bobby” Ramroop
However, to regularize the deal with QAII, the government moved to amend the legislation contained in the Fiscal Enactments Act. This Act was subsequently amended in the National Assembly after several hours of lively debate, especially in the context of the QAII deal involving the Sanata Textile Complex in Industrial Site, Ruimveldt.
“It stinks to high heavens…Officials should all be charged and placed in jail…If a Minister breaks the law then there must be a price to pay,” were some of the sentiments expressed during that debate.
The then shadow Finance Minister, the late Winston Murray, during that debate had pointed out that the legislation only went to the House in the wake of sustained criticism of the grant of the concessions to QAII.
“What is our concern is the granting of concessions that were illegal and had no place in the legal system…this law seeks to cover some aspects that were done outside of the law,” Murray had said.
One of Brassington’s critics, Chartered Accountant and Attorney-At-Law, Christopher Ram, said that if the NICIL boss “is so clean” then these are several simple questions that he should be able to answer easily.
Christopher Ram charged Brassington to inform the nation why it is that the entity has not been filing annual reports or annual tax returns. He sought to get answers also as to why Brassington has not been facilitating the laying of the audited accounts of NICIL in Parliament.
Ram also charged Brassington to say why the agencies which he heads and are under intense scrutiny, have not been keeping their public records up to date.
The accountant said that Brassington sat at the helm of a vehicle that has seen the diversion of state resources away from the Consolidated Funds. These are being utilised in a manner not consistent with the objectives of NICIL, according to Ram.
Brassington also spoke of the Auditor General’s Office being empowered to audit the books of PU/NICIL. The most recent Auditor General Report to be tabled in the House as it relates to NICIL says however: Inventories with a value of $1.177B were not subjected to a physical count at year end and the provision of $943.8M was based on a fixed percentage. (2002).
“Included in receivables due within one year was an amount of $1.323B which represented receivables of the Guyana Oil Company Limited (GUYOIL).”
However, it was noted that no provision was made for the sums of $573.480M and $309.155M,
Representing receivables from GPL and GEC respectively, which were included in the total amount shown. (2002)
Share certificates in support of the amounts shown as Stated Capital in respect of the Bauxite Industry Development Company, Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation, Guyana National Newspapers Limited for 2009. Share certificates for National Edible Oil Company for both years were not presented for audit examination.
As it relates to privatisation proceeds, between 1994 and 2007, in excess of $23 billion was realised from the privatisation of public companies and real estate. But not all of the monies came directly into the revenue coffers.
Brassington, when asked about the deposit of the $360 million accrued from the sale of a plot of land to John Fernandes Limited, said that the money went to NICIL, a government holding company.
When monies go to the public treasury, Parliament must decide on its release. However, when it goes to another fund, there is no need for Parliamentary intervention.
Only recently, too, while speaking on the issue of Brassington and NICIL, financial point man for A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and former Finance Minister, Carl Greenidge, who is one of the key architects in establishing the holdings entity, said that NICIL was never meant to be a “slush fund” for the government.
The former Finance Minister was also adamant that APNU will be pushing for an investigation of all NICIL’s operations and especially in relation the disposal of assets in the time of Jagdeo’s Presidency.
He said that one of NICIL’s roles was also to assist the Minister of Finance in formulating policy on how the assets would be managed.
Greenidge was adamant that NICIL was “not envisaged as a slush fund or an entity to hand over state assets to friends, cronies and associates of the PPP party or anyone else…It was supposed to be managing assets in a manner consistent with the national interest.”
Brassington in his missive to the state-controlled media, said that he and the entity he runs have always been open to scrutiny by inter alia, parliamentary bodies.
Immediate past Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, Volda Lawrence said that Brassington has never appeared before that committee to provide any explanations on any expenditure.
She pointed out that for an agency to be brought before the PAC for further scrutiny, a report has to be tabled in the House but this was not done for several years.
Carl Greenidge recently warned that “if Mr. Brassington believes that he operated properly within the law then he has nothing to worry about.”
Alliance for Change Khemraj Ramjattan had also warned that Brassington’s resignation from PU/NICIL will not mean he will get off ‘scot-free’ and that he will be called upon to account.
From the Diaspora… FIRE THIS DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS NOW
By Ralph Seeram
On my recent visit to Guyana, I made it a point to question some fellow Guyanese on their thoughts on justice in Guyana. It was certainly not a scientific survey, but never the less I came away with the distinct impression that generally they have no confidence in the Judiciary, do not trust the Police and have a very low opinion of the Director of Public Prosecutions Shalimar Ali-Hack.
This kind of public perception is not healthy for the Rule of Law. The Police, Judiciary and the office of the DPP are the main institutions in the implementation and observance of the Rule of law.
Public perception seemed to be that there is a double standard when it comes to implementation of justice in Guyana. As one person told me “It is who you know and money talks”. It is no secret that most Guyanese felt that the Jagdeo Government was corrupt.
The new President Donald Ramotar promised to root out corruption. He certainly did not make a good start when he retained some Ministers who the public perceived as corrupt. True, he did take initiatives to restore some confidence, like bringing outside investigators for the Commissioner of Police – Greene’s sex accusation case.
If the President wants to regain public confidence in the justice system in Guyana he can start by firing the incumbent Director of Public Prosecutions. In fact, I was surprised he retained her considering the many accusations against the DPP’s office.
I am yet to see any “big drug baron” prosecuted. Despite the intense expose in Kaieteur News of corruption in the Jagdeo regime, did we see any government official charged? The DPP did find the time to “hang” charges against three former NBS senior managers. The matter ran for over two years and was dismissed because in the first place there was not really any case against them. Rumour was that it was a politically motivated case.
One can go on to point out more instances of selective prosecution by the DPP office. However actions by the DPP in the ongoing sex scandal involving an Islamic Cleric, who is accused so far or raping nine young boys, necessitate the removal of Shalimar Ali-Hack from that office immediately.
I am sure most Guyanese believe the police, when they said someone from the DPP’s office intervened when the Cleric was arrested. I don’t know how much credence the public put in the statement by Shalimar Ali-Hack that she did not make the call.
Even if you want to give her the benefit of the doubt, did she make any effort to see if anyone from her office tried to subvert the course of justice? Was any inquiry made to ascertain who made the call? There is no question that the DPP and her husband have a very close relationship with the Central Islamic Organization of Guyana (CIOG), the employer of the Cleric.
She may know or even interacted with the individual, and as such she should have indicated that she would recuse herself from the matter. Did she do that? And what is all this back and forth nonsense between her and the police about who can bring charges against this accused child molester.
Any other “John Public” would have been charged and given no bail already. Why is this child molester running around free when strong medical evidence has emerged that some of these boys have been raped anally.
I am also incensed at the media for not publishing the perpetrator’s name. Why is he also being protected by the press? Publish his name. To use the press motto, the public has a right to know. Do we know if he is Guyanese or a foreigner?
Next you might hear he is out of the jurisdiction. He also needs to be incarcerated for his own safety. There are quite a few very disturbed and angry fathers out there that would like to get their hands on him.
I will tell you the truth, if that had happened to my son, that so called cleric would have been in very great danger for his life and I am sure that thought must be passing through the minds of the victims’ parents.
If President Donald Ramotar is really serious about restoring Guyanese confidence in the justice system, he can start by dismissing Shalimar Ali-Hack, and replace her not with a “political hack” no pun intended, but with someone who will bring integrity, efficiency and impartiality to the Office of the DPP, an attorney who will not bow to the dictates of politicians, nor to the rich and powerful.
That’s not much for the people to ask. Think about it Mr. President.
It always worries me when the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, gets into public space to defend the PPP/C government and members of its cabinet.
Every time the man opens his mouth nothing but sheer disrespect is meted out to the intelligent people of this country. I believe that the time has come for Guyanese to say to Roger Luncheon, we have had enough of your callous disregard for our intelligence and good nature.
My own position is that Luncheon has exhausted his privileges and he must now be brought to understand that the people of this country will no longer tolerate him and his party’s, inexcusable, negative view of us.
I was prompted to comment on this unfortunate reality when Roger Luncheon, planted himself on state television and state radio to jump to Minister Ifraan Ali’s defense regarding his multimillion dollar home, currently under construction.
The government, through Luncheon, reacted in a most dismissive, irresponsive and disrespectful manner when the people asked the legitimate question of how Ali is able to afford such inexplicable luxury.
The government’s reaction to this inquiry suggest to Guyanese that we are out of order to demand that Ifraan Ali, a common servant of the people, disclose where he got the finances to attempt to swim in such luxurious comfort.
To attempt to shut us up and take the matter out of the public’s eyes, Ali jumped to silence Kaieteur News by instituting a lawsuit against that entity for carrying his story of indescribable wealth.
Luncheon, using the people’s media, held a press conference to tell Guyanese that the young Housing Minister came from a rich family and that he started to build his mansion before he became Minister. What foolishness!
This response was supposed to keep us from asking the vexing questions of ‘show me how you financing this multimillion dollars house’.
Just like Ali rushed to find Mortimer Mingo’s bounced check, he has a responsibility to disclose to the people all sources of his income, legacy, and gifts which were bequeathed to him and which he used to drench himself in the wealth he now sports. He must clearly show how those resources are aiding, or facilitating, in the construction of his mansion.
The government behaves as though they have a franchise on making Guyanese fools and so disregarding our intelligence and disrespecting us becomes an ordinary every day thing.
So they send Luncheon to come to us with coarse rationale and simple logic, without any intention to substantiate anything. Evidence they assume is not necessary to furnish to a people who they regard as gullible, docile and too simple to be bothered with.
This is the only message their actions indicate. My question is, in which other country this kind of ‘low class eye pass’ can happen; where a government might be saying to its citizens, your role is not to question actions of government Minister.
The PPP/C must, however, understand that Guyanese are cognizant of the fact that our right to ask such questions is legitimate and should be welcome in any country which touts itself as being democratic. In these days of massive corruption in government, the people must know where Ifraan Ali, a government minister, acquired those millions to construct such multi-million dollar property.
Knowledge of this proven fact is likely to erase any doubt in the minds of the public. Further, any government who professes to its people that it is ‘transparent’, would, as of necessity, encourage this kind of positive action from its functionaries, be it Ali or anyone else. Only, when this happens can suspicions of corruption removed.
The only facts Guyanese have about this young member of the PPP/C cabinet are; that Ifraan Ali is thirty two years old, he became a Minister in the last Jagdeo led Administration and has been retained as Housing Minister in this Ramotar led government, that his salary as minister cannot afford such an exorbitant and lavish home.
We don’t know that he came from a wealthy family, and if so, we don’t know that this is a logical defense to him splurging himself with the kind of luxurious habitat he is preparing himself.
Further than this, we have a right to demand evidence of how this, ‘supposed family wealth’ was handed down to the Minister. It is our right to know these things lest we feel it is our taxpaying dollars that have been used in a scheme.
Luncheon, the PPP/C government and Ifraan Ali must satisfy the Guyanese people that Ali’s lavish multi-million dollar home, under construction is above board and not linked to corrupt activities, which involves pilfering from the state.