THE LEGACY OF PRESIDENT JAGDEO: UNFETTERED CORRUPTION
President Bharrat Jagdeo must, at this time, be consciously aware that there is the widespread national and international perception – the World Bank, the US Government, Transparency International, et al – that his is the most corrupt Administration since Guyana gained its independence.
In its 2007 Human Rights Report, the United States Government described the situation in the following words: “The World Bank’s worldwide governance indicators reflected that government corruption was a serious problem.
There was a widespread public perception of serious corruption in the government, including law enforcement and the judicial system. Low-wage public servants were easy targets for bribery.”
There is no doubt that the Jagdeo Administration has purposefully and callously visited on the backs of the rapidly growing army of pauperised Guyanese, a coterie of sheltered and highly corrupt officials and “friends” of the Administration – whether they be Drug Lords or Crime Barons – at all levels and in every sector of the society.
In the procurement process, infrastructural works, in the Ministries and Departments of the Government and in the Regions. Yes, bribery and corruption is widespread and very well known. The favoured and protected officials and friends have continued to enrich themselves, through corrupt means, unfettered by any visible official sanctions or credible efforts to curb their activities.
The unparalleled levels of corruption and the blatant lack of accountability by the Jagdeo Administration is demonstrated by the following scams:
? The stone scam;
? The Milk scam;
? The gold scam;
? The law books scam;
? The re-migrant duty-free-vehicle scam;
? The Cane Grove Conservancy Dam scam;
? The IAST scam;
? The wildlife scam;
? The export of dolphins scam;
? The Polar Beer scam; and now
? The Guysuco scam.
The cosseted Narco-Trafficking fraternity – which remain invisible to the Jagdeo Administration and the Police Commissioner, even with the external drug interdiction authorities in the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the conviction of Roger Khan and others seem unable to provide the hard evidence needed for charges to be brought against any of the well known perpetrators/barons in Guyana.
Apart from the well-publicised interceptions of large cocaine consignments from Guyana in suitcases, strapped-to-the body, in the mail and ingested, the Guyanese have gained international notoriety for:
? Cocaine-in rice;
? Cocaine- in-cricket-bats;
? Cocaine-in-baking-powder; and
? Almost any other artifact or commodity leaving Guyana.
Those who have dared to challenge the corrupt “system” have been cruelly rewarded by officially sanctioned punishment, for example, the unwarranted dismissal of the Customs Officials in the Polar Beer scam and, very recently, the dismissal of Materials Manager, Mr Aasrodeen Shaw, by the Board of Guysuco.
As reported in the Stabroek News of 24 March, 2010 “According to GAWU, this comes against the background of dubious management decisions such as outsourcing of certain services to certain contractors; reports of visible, blatant idling of vital GuySuCo-owned machines; financial billion-dollar losses and fiascoes of Booker-Tate contractors and the Skeldon bungling; not to mention the astonishingly low three percent across-the-board wage increase by Arbitration Tribunal towards the end of 2009″
The calculated failure by the Administration to establish the Constitutionally mandated autonomous Public Procurement Commission, which would have provided the needed transparency and fairness for Public Procurement activities, has enabled the continuation of the misappropriation of billions of taxpayer and donor agencies funds into the pockets of relatives, cronies and corrupt contractors.
When the PNCR called for “a forensic audit into the assets acquired by senior Government officials and corrupt business people, which bear no relationship to their incomes and earnings”, the regime unleashed the full force and venom of its well financed and staffed propaganda machinery against the PNCR.
However, as even the arrogant and shameless Jagdeo Administration must recognise, the PNCR cannot be terrorised or bullied into submission. The Party owes it, as our moral duty and responsibility to the People of Guyana, to vigorously continue our campaign to expose the venality of the Administration.
The reports by the Office of the Auditor General have made absolutely no difference. The corruption express has simply gained momentum. The leakages from the public purse into private pockets continue to grow!
At the level of the President, the Lottery Funds continue to be misused as if they are his private property. The Auditor General’s 2007 Report provide ample evidence of the orgy of corruption, mismanagement, incompetence, illegal spending, and the abuse of the financial rules and regulations.
We also have the recent blatant abuse of the Supplementary provisions, by the Minister of Housing and Water, whereby $4.0Bn was used to subsidise GUYSUCO without the approval of the National Assembly.
The Contingencies Fund continues to be abused with sums of money being drawn from it to meet expenditure that do not meet the eligibility criteria as defined in the Financial Administration and Management Act. G$3.945 Bn was drawn from the Fund by way of often questionable advances to Ministers.
According to Law, the Office of the Auditor General is supposed to fall under the jurisdiction of the National Assembly, through the Public Accounts Committee. The reality is that the Office is listed as a Budget Agency under the Office of the President and being starved of staff.
This is a travesty of democracy and of good governance. The cynicism of it all is borne out by the fact that only 114 out of a complement of 226 staff were in position as the Office was tasked with extending its mandate to include Value-for-Money Audits.
Further, the National Assembly is still awaiting the audited accounts for the funds used during the 2005 Floods, the Cricket World Cup, the hosting of CARIFESTA X and the recently held ICC Twenty/20 tournament.
As if all of the above were not enough, we were faced with the Jagdeo Administration pushing through retroactive legislation to legalise the brazenly provided “sweetheart” deals for their cronies, such as the Queens Atlantic Investment Inc. (QAII). It should also be recalled that Guyana Stores Ltd. was sold, in October 2000, for US$6M of which US$4M was reported as received with the remaining sum to be paid by September 2002. However, seven years later, this amount still remains outstanding.
A similar situation obtains with respect of the privatisation of the National Paint Company for which US$900,000 remains outstanding on the purchase price.
Unfortunately, the above are only two of the very many examples where State assets have been cavalierly granted to cronies who have failed to meet their payment obligations.
It does appear that this Administration flagrantly disrespects their obligations to account for the assets of the People of Guyana. The day of reckoning will soon be here!
It is apposite to remind President Jagdeo that “Moon ah run til day catch um!”