President Bharrat Jagdeo appears to have been unwittingly suckered into a politically partisan tit-for-tat when, in response to calls for a CLICO (GY) probe, he says that he will agree to an investigation into what transpired at Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) Guyana only if there is a corresponding investigation into the affairs of Globe Trust and Investment Company Limited (GTICL).
It’s either he doesn’t see the call for a CLICO (GY) probe as an attempt to hold certain key players accountable and responsible and also to determine the nature of the transactions overseas, or he prefers to deflect the attention away from him and those under him responsible for the CLICO (GY) fiasco by pointing to the Globe precedent, as if the latter somehow excuses or negates culpability for those involved in the former.
Regardless of which it is, what is now clearly emerging is a pattern of behaviour by the President that smacks of gross irresponsibility or complete insensitivity to the public. Everything, to him, is now viewed through politically partisan lenses and that can lead to him erroneously read the tea leaves, because the people clearly are incensed by their losses.
This pattern of behaviour can be traced back to when the PNC asked for an investigation into the Phantom Squad-era extra-judicial killings and the President retaliated by saying only if there is a corresponding probe of the events leading up to and spawning the 2002-2004 crime wave.
In that era, over 200 lives were lost, society was pushed to the precipice, the already feeble economy was threatened with a complete collapse of even the informal economy, and despite all the politically charged finger pointing and blame-naming games, there has been no official arrest of a single political opposition member and no official investigation, yet the government gives the impression all related events of that era are officially closed.
And then there was the PNC’s call for the government to do an audit of its officials the same way an audit was being done on Customs Officers, and the President retaliated by ordering MPs to declare their assets or face police charges.
Beside the political uproar caused by the President’s ill-advised order, the public holds a strong perception that government is selectively auditing officials to carefully preserve the jobs of some while pink-slipping others as if to show the war against corruption is being waged.
The public still wants to know how nine CANU officers can be canned for failing polygraph tests and not for being found guilty of any act, but the President is yet to act on the Auditor-General’s Polar Beer-Fidelity scam report, in which the AG reportedly recommends prosecutions. The report was submitted since January this year. And this is the same President whose government just tabled a bill in Parliament seeking to have judges fired for failing to render decisions in a timely manner in civil and appeal cases.
How can this government seek to fire judges for not deciding appeal and civil cases in a timely manner when the President is guilty of not acting in a timely manner on the Polar Beer-Fidelity scam report?
Matter of fact, how can the President live with his own conscience asking for judges to be fired, as per parliamentary approval on the matter of timeliness in judges’ decisions, knowing that scores of bills approved by the same Parliament are sitting on his desk waiting his signature to become law? Who really deserves to be fired, eh?
All this talk about firing judges for not making timely decisions not only smacks of blatant hypocrisy, but raises public ire over the government’s failure to fire its Insurance Commissioner who failed to apply penalties prescribed in Section 9 of the Insurance Act against the CEO of CLICO (GY) for violating Section 55 of said Insurance Act. The Insurance Commissioner knew throughout 2008, and perhaps as far back as 2007, that the CEO of CLICO (GY) was violating Section 55, which forbids local insurance companies from investing more than 15% of funds overseas, and the Commissioner did not apply Section 9, which calls for an instant GY$1million fine plus a fine of GY$100,000 for every day the violation exists, plus prison time.
Because the Commissioner did not act in a timely manner, GY$6.4 billion went out the country with no returns, yet not only is the Commissioner still on her job, but she has been appointed Judicial Manager of the same CLICO (GY). It might be legal, but it sure defies logic. As for the CEO of CLICO (GY), though she is no longer CEO, she is still not fined or imprisoned; but is it because she is also chairman of the Berbice Bridge Project and a board member of GUYSUCO?
Mr. Editor, you can’t sit down and make up or script this kind of craziness for even a B-rated movie, yet this is the craziness that is part of governance in Guyana, and government still has the nerve to talk about firing people for corruption or failing to make timely decisions.
I am not speaking on behalf of the parliamentary political opposition PNC or AFC, but on behalf of the people of Guyana, when I say that even though the United States is being blamed for precipitating the current global meltdown, the US Congress has made good-faith efforts to call several players to answer questions publicly about their roles, even as investigations are being done by the FBI and various state attorneys-general. Guyana, meanwhile, has its own meltdown taking place, but Guyanese are yet to see such a transparent display of public accountability for what happened with their GY$6.4 billion, and they are not likely to either, given that the President has made it impossible by saying there won’t be one unless it is done simultaneously with the Globe saga.
To the President, the big difference between CLICO (GY) and Globe is that CLICO (GY) had billions of dollars invested overseas in violation of the Insurance Act and government officials knew and did nothing to stop the violation. When a CLICO (GY) audit was done in 2007, the amount invested overseas was 51%; when CLICO (BH) collapsed, the amount was 53%, so instead of going down it went up.
Your government, sir, is directly responsible for failing to do its duty in a timely manner and, using your own maxim, heads should have been rolling and criminal charges should have been instituted. So, even though operators of Globe screwed up, the government had over a decade to learn from Globe’s mistakes, but it didn’t. And here’s another emerging pattern of your regime: when confronted with its mistakes or failings, it adverts to or compares itself with mistakes or failings by others in the past.
If the mistakes and failings of others are what you use to measure or compare your government, then after a while that’s what will define your government.
If you want to be properly redefined, you must avoid denial and stop being so defensive; it only exposes your lack of sensitivity, accountability and responsibility as the nation’s top honcho!
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