There are times when you read what leading members of the Guyana Government say on television, or are quoted in the newspapers as saying, that you wonder how any group of rulers can be so contemptuous of their citizens.
On page 13 of last Saturday’s edition of this newspaper, there is a new item in which Dr. Roger Luncheon, talking about the sale of the Pegasus, remarked: “…we have no clue, because we were kept out…we were deliberately kept out….”
This is not the first time that the elected officials that direct the nation’s affairs have complained that there are foreigners in their dealings with the Guyana Government that are not principled people.
When European Union Commissioner Peter Mandelson came to Guyana to discuss the change in the Sugar Protocol, he was accused of deception. The opinion was that he said one thing in Guyana and did another thing when he went back to Europe.
The story of top Guyanese politicians in power crying foul about the way outside policy-makers behave towards them goes on, the latest episode involving the President.
I wrote about his complaint last week that the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM) had overstepped its technical/professional jurisdiction and had entered the political arena by canvassing for the EPA.
It would have been wise if Dr. Luncheon had abstained from making a comment on how the Pegasus ownership treated the Guyana Government, since Dr. Luncheon would know that when it comes to the hotel business, this Government’s attitude to democracy, transparency and accountability has being extremely offensive.
To date, the people of Guyana have been refused the name(s) of the investors of the large Kingston hotel that was supposed to carry the Marriott stamp.
The Pegasus owners, Peter Mandelson and the CRNM headship were not elected by the Guyanese people. They ought to be honest in their relationship with the Guyana Government, but they do not have a voting obligation to us.
The elected officials in the Guyana Government have a huge moral obligation to inform the Guyanese people on the policies they pursue. If the Pegasus owners should have kept a line open to the Guyana Government, then why can’t this very government tell its people who are the Kingston investors?
First, the explanation was that during sensitive financial negotiations, it is best not to make public disclosures. Secondly, we are now informed that the (unknown or unidentified) company is awaiting the green light from the EPA.
It is nothing but insulting to a nation that its government cannot name the people who are building a huge hotel complex with Casino facilities all because the EPA has not given the green light as yet.
What does the assessment by the EPA have to do with a country knowing who are its latest entrepreneurs?
Then we had the hold-up of 39 micro projects funded by the EU.
Day in, day out, editorials, commentaries, opposition remarks were directed at the reason for the embargo. None ever came, except a vague remark by Dr. Ashni Singh in Parliament about “administration” of the project.
No wonder Caricom people who are accustomed to a change of government are so contemptuous of the junta in Georgetown. They wonder how such a truculent regime continues to sit in power.
Against this background of relentless, unmitigated and unrepentant secrecy, many stakeholders have continued to treat the Guyana Government with respect that it does not deserve.
The recent “consultations” on the EPA is a case in point. The PNC turned up and gave support. So did Professor Clive Thomas.
What did the PNC do afterwards? It asked that the Government publish the names of the recipients of major contracts. There has been no response so far from Dr. Luncheon, who is Secretary to the Cabinet.
I can fully understand why beneficiaries of the PPP Government would want to support it. This is perfectly logical. But no Guyanese without any attachment to the PPP or the Guyana Government should utter even a fleeting remark in support of the Freedom House cabal.
What kind of future do we have in this (perhaps, Godforsaken) country when, in 2008, the leadership of a government in the modern Caribbean can openly reject the value and necessity of a Freedom of Information Act?
We cannot read into the minds of the Caricom leaders, but those who study Caribbean politics may be able to do some guessing. I could just imagine what went into the heads of the two new leaders (Thompson of Barbados and Golding of Jamaica) as President Jagdeo sought to persuade them that the European Union had pulled an imperialist stunt on us with the EPA.
Both men must have said to themselves, “Why don’t we give this guy a lecture in open, accountable, transparent government?”
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