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The Alliance For Change (AFC), along with Everall Franklin of the Guyana Action Party (GAP), held a press conference yesterday, where the nation was urged to voice its condemnation at what was described as “the raping of the nation’s resources”.
The request was made in the context of several articles written by this newspaper after scrutinizing several contracts for works done by the Agriculture Ministry.
According to Franklin, who was at the time reading a prepared statement, “in the midst of our sugar workers demanding fair pay for work, along with civil servants calling for a living wage, we are seeing in the most graphic ways how the wealth of this nation is divided among a selected few.”
“Our nurses and teachers are overworked and underpaid and the most experienced leave these shores to secure their family’s future…Constantly we are told by this government that there is no way that the wages and salaries can be bettered and in the midst of ‘squandermania’, we organize telethons, fundraisers and beg to finance medical care for our sick children and other persons in dire need.”
Franklin emphasised that “the nation is insulted constantly by the sheer outrageousness of corrupt practices being perpetrated against us, the people of this country” adding that the recent exposure of a few contracts, which left many people shaking their heads in bewilderment, is but a small portion of the uncontrolled mismanagement meted out to the Guyanese population.
He cited the small pump house at Stanleytown which according to him “less than 15 gallons of paint (under seventy thousand dollars) could give more than six coats to that size building, and it cost this nation one million, seven hundred thousand dollars (with labour included), indeed very expensive labour.”
He said that the example he alluded to illustrates the scale of the “runnings being executed in our name.”
Franklin also drew reference to the now infamous Stanleytown pump for which $61 million was spent and it was later published that the same equipment was sourced for less than $12 million.
“If this is not a case for the Auditor General nothing else will ever be…I would not repeat the Minister of Finance’s uncharacteristically uneducated response on this matter but would say that either the engineers sent to monitor these projects are most likely absent, incompetent or corrupt, take your pick.”
He posited also that only a government which benefits from corruption will keep still.
“This is how the people’s wealth is being squandered…If we continue to bury our heads in the muck which is now evident, we leave exposed the most vulnerable parts of our anatomy for further violation and abuse…This cannot be allowed to continue, we all have to raise our voices in condemnation with the aim to stop this rape of our resources.”
When asked if the elected leaders were not scrutinizing the expenditure of taxpayer money, the politicians insisted in the affirmative, but pointed out that the opposition and media could expose these glaring anomalies, but it is ultimately up to the Government to curb the practice.
It was pointed out also that the Auditor General’s Office must be adequately staffed and allowed to do its job in order to provide a better service to the Guyanese people.
“Yes we can bring it up…Yes we can highlight it,” said Franklin, adding that as is the case during the budget debates there is very little that could be done, save and except for highlighting it to the populace, “and show how truly outrageous it is how the wealth of this nation is being squandered.”
According to Vice Chairman of the AFC, Sheila Holder, the government lacks the will to establish the Public Procurement Commission, which is a forum where a significant level of corruption as it relates to the spending of the taxpayers money could be weeded out.
The Public Procurement Commission is a Constitutional body that is yet to be established given the controversy surrounding a satisfactory list of nominees from the government. Leader of the AFC, Raphael Trotman, in his remarks said that there is absolutely no will within the administration to weed out corruption.
“It is going on unabated in a senseless matter that is akin to rape or a feeding frenzy…hopefully come the next elections people will exercise better judgement.”
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