Guyana is wasting the people’s resources
There is a saying, willful waste makes woeful want. Guyana seems to be willfully wasting its resources, including its financial resources. The Guyana Sugar Corporation is just one case in point. I remember when the word came that the European Union was going to cut the amount of money it was paying for sugar from Guyana and the rest of the African Caribbean and Pacific countries.
I watched St Kitts and Jamaica get out of sugar. I heard the British High Commissioner say that he thought that Guyana should get out of sugar. My thoughts went back to Desmond Hoyte. He thought that Guyana should get out of sugar and he was prepared to close some of the sugar estates.
Of course this became a political issue. The now ruling party accused Hoyte and his People’s National Congress of targeting supporters of the People’s Progressive Party. The bulk of the sugar workers were supporters of the ruling party.
The then President Cheddi Jagan announced that he was not going to close any sugar estate. Indeed, he never did, but his successors did close some of the estates, the most recent being the one at La Bonne Intention.
Then President Bharrat Jagdeo came up with what was expected to be a trump card—the new Skeldon Sugar Factory. That became the country’s largest investment. The nation waited for the miracle but it is still to happen. Skeldon is under producing, it is subjected to numerous breakdowns a mere three years into its existence and it is using more cane to produce a ton of sugar, much more than any of the other sugar factories that were considered inefficient.
It was made with Chinese technology and China is being seen as the emerging world power. Then about two weeks ago I began to read that the United States was being plagued with breakdowns attributed to Chinese equipment. Now we know that Guyana wasted money on Chinese equipment and Chinese technology.
The waste does not end there. Despite the comments by the government that it is only time before the factory begins operating at its maximum, the reality is that there is no hope of the factory ever delivering.
Last week I learnt that Guyana has already begun to repay the money it borrowed to construct this modern factory. GuySuCo does not have money because it cannot pay its workers. The money is therefore being repaid by me and the people of this country.
The nation is not being told this because it is a slap in the face of the government. There is still the message to the nation that Skeldon is going to be Guyana’s salvation. But the factory is merely the beginning of Guyana’s relationship with China. We are going to have the Chinese extend the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the terminal building; they are going to build the Marriott Hotel; they are running a communication cable that would help Guyana Power and Light monitor its operation; and they are the producers of the laptop computers that form the basis of the One Laptop per Family project.
It must be that the Chinese have bought the leaders of the country and are now earning the fruits of the payment.
But the government is silent. Kaieteur News, cognizant of the fact that this is a poor country and needs value for every dollar it spends, has been looking at these projects. However, whenever it asks hard questions it is accused of being anti-government.
Kaieteur News was one of the critics of the Skeldon Sugar Factory. It pushed the government to penalize the contractor when it seemed that he was taking forever to construct the factory. But sometimes, the saviour stands alone; his voice a single strident note that soon becomes lost in the wind.
There are those who believe that someone has actually collected money on the side from the Chinese and it came as a pleasant surprise when President Donald Ramotar announced that he was going to ask his members of parliament, in fact, all members of parliament, to declare their income and assets at the end of every year.
Perhaps he suspects that some of his own people have unexplained wealth but he cannot touch them. They are protected by constitutional provisions. It would be interesting to ascertain whether they have been paying their due taxes.
Another case of wasted resources can be seen in the payment of people who have little or nothing to do for the good of the country. These are labeled advisors, but some of them are mere political workers. The country needs to protect its assets.
Just recently I had cause to look at the operations of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL). I noticed that instead of holding onto the people’s money, this entity was actually wasting the money.
This has not come out as yet, but NICIL has money in the Berbice River Bridge. However it is not getting any returns on its investment in that bridge. President Jagdeo did announce that Government was going to forego its dividends in a move to keep the toll down.
NICIL has money in Hand in Hand Trust, but again it is getting no dividends. I learnt this from Winston Brassington who said that his brother for his $225 million investment is getting nothing. Now it is going to put US$19 million into the Marriott and I am going to bet that it will not get any money either, at least not in the foreseeable future.
With such waste of resources, I cannot understand why the government is making such a fuss over the budget cuts.