The NCN debate exposes Gopaul’s thinking on what public servants should do to live comfortably
During a portion of the corruption debates on NCN Channel 11— TV last week, a most awkward statement was made by the former Head of the Public Service, Nanda K Gopaul who said “What is wrong with a former President seeking to ensure that he lives a comfortable life after his presidency.”
This statement by Mr. Gopaul suggests that it is acceptable for a head of state to attain wealth by any means necessary ”to live a comfortable life after his presidency”. This type of statement should not be made by a minister of the government who is supposed to maintain a certain level of behavior.
As the former Commander of all Public Servants, Mr. Jagdeo was expected to have maintained the highest level of behavior that reflects honesty, decency and integrity. This type of behavior was aptly captured by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) as follows, which outlines how a public servant must operate:
1. He should have the highest degree of integrity and decency;
2. All his personal and public dealings must be conducted in a fair and honest manner;
3. He should lead all public servants on the delivery of the highest quality services;
4. He should exercise his stewardship over government funds in such a manner that will maximize cost effectiveness and value for money in the best interest of the people.
For Mr. Gopaul’s education, nowhere there did we detect that a public servant should carry out his mandate to “ensure he lives a comfortable life” after he demits office. The record clearly shows that as the President of Guyana, Mr. Jagdeo’s behavior was not only hilarious but was also nowhere close to the stipulations of the IPAC.
This was the president who before and during the elections “cuss down” those who disagreed with him and did absolutely nothing to reduce corruption and the illegal trafficking of narcotics. This was the president who publicly stated that Mr. Nigel Hughes would never become a Senior Council of law during his tenure.
And this was the president who pulled all government advertisements from Stabroek News and Kaieteur News for partisan reasons, a decision that was only reversed upon the conception of the newspaper he is alleged to be party owner of.
Further, some of the transactions conducted by Mr. Jagdeo could not withstand the scrutiny of the law or the rules of the IPAC. For example, can Mr. Jagdeo’s real estate transaction stand up to the rule of law and the provisions set out in the IPAC for public servants? No!
Can the source of funds to construct his palace at Pradoville Two be justified? No!
Was he accorded preferential treatment in obtaining his beach front land?
So what we have observed from his two underlings, Nanda Gopaul and Anil Nandlall is the condoning of a PPP ploy to facilitate their abuse of power and the use of State resources for their personal enrichment.
And as if to insult the citizens even more, the Jagdeo/Ramotar regime, with its majority in Parliament, changed the Presidential Pension Law that handed Bharat Jagdeo a handsome pension and benefits package of some $36 million per year while our senior citizens have to make do on a meager $0.12 million per year.
But what is even more disheartening for the poor and the working class is the majority opposition leader Mr. David Granger has been unable to bring to an end these most unethical, unprincipled and unscrupulous acts of power abuse and the squandering of the state resources by the PPP. It has been nine months now since the elections, and Mr. Granger has been mostly missing in action and the majority opposition appears to have surrendered the battle to bring justice and fair play to the political landscape of Guyana.
Not one law has been designed, debated or passed by the opposition to remedy the immoral and depraved acts of the Jagdeo/Ramotar regime. Is this a continuation of the former leader of the PNCR Mr. Robert Corbin’s era of tacit cooperation with the PPP? For whose benefit!!
A public servant, whether he/she is in the Government or in the Opposition is expected to have a conscience; he/she is supposed to be a practitioner of good governance, honesty, fair-mindedness and must have the courage and conviction to fulfill their duty to the people.
Nowhere is it defined that a public servant ought to operate like a “con-man” to turn a profit at the people’s expense to “ensure that he/she lives a comfortable life” after he/she leaves office.
Our foreparents who crossed the dark seas to arrive at this land believed in the fundamental Guyanese tradition of; even if you have little; if you work hard, study hard and do not break the law, then you should be able to establish a decent life for you and your family.
That is why salaries are paid, gratuities are granted, and pensions provided to public servants for retirement. During his public service life, Mr. Jagdeo earned between $145 million to $160 million tax free. Notwithstanding that at his divorce, he agreed to give his ex-wife Varshanie Singh half of his net worth which at the time was approximately $12 million. But that was some five years ago.
So if he had $6 million left after paying off Varhsanie, he gained another $200 million including the sale of that house in Pradoville 1 for some $120 million in a “kangala” deal that make real estate history in Guyana. So how on earth can an asset of $200 million justify a $300 million real estate transaction? We would really like to learn Gopaul’s arithmetic.
Thus for Nanda K. Gopaul to make such an appalling statement is deserving of an explanation. Is he saying that it is okay for a public servant to rapidly increase his/her personal wealth at the taxpayer’s expense in order to make sure “he/she lives a comfortable life” after demitting office? Is he giving a blank check to all public servants including the ministers of the government to follow in his leader’s footsteps?
The cardinal rule is if one is dissatisfied with their wages and benefits as a public servant, then he/she is free to seek employment in the private sector to generate the income needed to “live a comfortable life.” We are certain that the New GPC or any other private company would be most willing to offer him a multi-million dollar salary position. And there is nothing wrong with that.
But public servants do not have the moral right to use the National Treasury to fatten their personal bank accounts. Those individuals do not have the right to demand kick-backs on the mega contracts to amass more wealth at the expense of the taxpayers.
It is clear for all to see that some have used their positions in the public service to amass more personal wealth than even the President of the United States.
To further complicate matters, today we have a “stand in” President who is in a perpetual slumber as he carries out his duties, leaving all the serious business of running the State to an immoral and unethical team. Does Mr. Ramotar really understand the power of the presidency?
Thanks to the corruption debates at NCN for exposing Mr. Gopaul’s thoughts on what public servants should do to live a comfortable life upon retirement and thanks to Nigel Hughes for asking the question “Can any other Guyanese be offered a beach front land for $5 million per acre?” We are looking forward to the answer.
Dr Asquith Rose and Harish S. Singh