The government is demanding answers as to why two Guyanese cricketers have not been picked for the West Indies team. What a thing! What gumption!
The government has a nerve! They can find the time to demand explanations for the dropping of two Guyanese from the West Indies cricket team, yet this very government has been unwilling to provide explanations for numerous queries on matters which are of public interest.
This newspaper has been asking a great many questions about deals made by the government over the past few years. The government has been mean with the details. It has rationed information and been very austere in disclosures. Yet it has the temerity to claim that it is committed to transparency. Well what about making public the agreement it signed to build the Amalia Falls Road.
Had the government listened to this newspaper, it would not have found itself in the situation that it is now in. This newspaper was the first to raise serious questions about the deal on a major road building contract to the proposed site of the Amalia Falls Hydroelectric Plant.
This newspaper raised a number of concerns about that deal. A number of the concerns that were expressed then are now coming home to roost. This newspaper asked questions about the experience of the contractor. It queried whether the road could realistically be constructed in the time given. It asked what would happen should the work be behind schedule or not completed.
The government has not made the agreement public, but defended itself by saying that it was secured by a performance bond which has been provided from a local insurance company.
So what is the state of play in relation to this project? There have been reports that the work on this three billion dollar road is way behind schedule. This is not a one hundred million dollar road. This is not a small project. This is a major project and involves billions of dollars. Being behind schedule is supposed to be taken seriously. What are the penalties for being behind schedule? The public is no wiser because it does not have a copy of the deal.
What is there to hide? Why is the government so fearful to reveal the details of this deal? The government has an obligation to lay before this nation, the full details of this contract and all subsequent developments, including whether any payments were made for mobilization; what penalties have been imposed or are likely to be imposed by virtue of the project being behind schedule.
But this is not the only deal that this newspaper has exposed. It also reported on a deal to install additional power generating capacity. A multi-million-dollar foundation was supposed to have been constructed on which a new plant is to be grounded.
This newspaper is monitoring the construction of this foundation. The reports indicate so far that some 23 wooden piles have been driven, but it is not clear if any steel piles have been laid. Can the Guyana Power and Light say whether any steel piles will be laid and if so, how many. If no steel piles are going to be laid, then it needs to state why not. At the same time, it should provide the public with details as to when this foundation is going to be completed.
The PPP’s idea of transparency is to advertise a tender. It begins and ends there. It feels under no obligation to ensure that what is signed is made public and what is done in the execution of a contract is also made public.
Whenever contracts are announced, there is dearth of details. Not even the names of contractors are provided on a regular basis.
This represents a dereliction on the part of the administration to be transparent about the deals that it entered into. Unlike what was promised when the PPP took office in 1992, none of these controversial deals have been laid before the National Assembly and this cannot be scrutinized by the elected representatives of the people.
How then can the government speak of transparency and accountability when the elected representatives of the people are no more knowledgeable about what is taking place than the people? The people need explanations and providing these explanations means far more to them than why two Guyanese cricketers are no longer part of the West Indies team.
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