Guyana, the land of Many Waters, but the country that can never provide its people with adequate supplies of potable water is indeed a mystery. The global economic crisis that saw huge problems in countries around the world barely touched Guyana, although some people are still sweating because they invested millions of dollars in two schemes and they stand to lose some of that money.
Of course, President Bharrat Jagdeo has said that those who invested in CLICO (Guyana) could get back their money but there could be a problem for those who invested in Stanford, the man who sponsored multi-million dollar schemes and who is now in trouble with the United States courts for scamming people.
I was a small fry so I could not have caught the attention of Mr Allen Stanford but there were some Guyanese who were big enough to attract his attention. One of them was Hand-in-Hand Trust Company. At least that company’s involvement with Mr Stanford was made public.
There must be others. And coming as it does on the heels of the CLICO incident and the Stanford scam, I am now wondering if the problems at Guyana Water Inc. have anything to do with any of these. I know that there is corruption in some quarters of the public administration.
Every day there are mutterings. People talk about problems with contracts and some talk about officials demanding bribes for legitimate work. In the case of Guyana Water Inc. there is one such allegation and the person at the centre of all this is saying nothing.
There is a whole page advertisement running in the newspapers from another of the parties involved and the Board of Directors of Guyana Water Inc. has promised that the police would be called in. At least, this is one case where somebody is moving to deal with corruption.
A friend of mine worked hard for his money and he is most angry at what he perceives to be corruption in just about every government quarter. And he may have something because there are always people who talk about paying something to someone for a favour.
For example, a Sophia mother called me to complain about the harassment her son suffers. She said that the boy drives her car and the first time the police stopped him they demanded $10,000 because the car had a slight tint on the windows.
The mother said that she had a chance to let her son know that there was nothing that she could have done because the car was manufactured with the slight tint on the windows. But the police did not care. They kept stopping her son and demanding money.
On one occasion one group stopped him and no sooner had he left than a senior officer approached him. The mother said that she was in the car and she let the officer know that she had had enough of the shakedown. However, the effect on her son has been traumatic. He is refusing to drive the car.
That is only one case. Just recently, the police ended up charging nearly one dozen of their own for corruption, but so endemic is the corruption that the threat of being placed in a facility with people whom they themselves arrested is no deterrent.
I have not been a part of any shakedown, perhaps because I am a public figure with access to the media but I have friends who have been and rather than speak out they would come to me and ask that I do not call their name.
How can I do a good report without naming the individual? But I suppose people are afraid that they could be made to suffer one way or another because the people they complain against do have friends.
Just the other day, I read that in Trinidad, a woman who had been placed into protective custody dared to leave such custody to go to a party. She was shot dead. How her killers knew where she would be is a mystery unless people who knew her had direct contact with her killers.
But in Guyana things are not as serious because we are not as cruel. Except for the aggrieved husband, we simply do not kill women. Perhaps, next week I will examine this nonsense of men killing women or abusing them.
But back to corrupt practices as we know them. There is a belief that some major players in the CLICO scheme managed to get out their money before the takeover. There is word that there might have been inside information to these people who are believed to be major players on the government scene.
My friend is getting sick thinking about such things and I try to tell him that this could not be the case because the records would expose them. I await the information to prove him wrong and I hope that I am right.
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