Feb 22, 2012 Letters
The government went on the ‘we are the victims’ campaign when the parliamentary opposition parties, last Thursday, used their parliamentary majority to ensure that the government provide satisfactory explanation as to how monies intended to benefit the people of Guyana are spent.
Let me state from the outset that this is the kind of scrutiny that the people expect this 10th Parliament to employ in the management of their affairs. For too long the PPP/C has taken advantage on the citizenry by using its parliamentary majority to bulldoze the parliament and pilfer from the state.
On Thursday 16th February 2012, the PPP/C again attempted to continue in this vein of bulldozing the people, when they barefacedly presented Supplementary Financial Papers 7 and 8 for passage in the National Assembly, without any satisfactorily and justifiable explanation.
Once passed, these supplementary provisions would allow the government of Guyana to expend billions of dollars, supposedly for the benefit of the people. The problem with the PPP/C, though, is that they have grown accustomed to disrespecting Guyanese so much so that even in this new political reality, in which they have been relegated to minority status, they still feel that they can simply, by themselves, authorize massive spending of the people’s money without offering the very people any explanation. However, they were given a reality check when the opposition used their majority to demand that the Finance Minister provide satisfactory explanation of how the billions of dollars earmarked for spending would in fact be utilized.
This move, which resulted in Financial Paper Number 8 suffering a major defeat, seemed to have pushed the government and its agents into an acute state of schizophrenia, occasioning a number of press conferences and talk shows by the government, which exposed the obvious state of detachment from reality by this administration.
The main intention of these PPP/C publicity stunts, seems to be rooted in propaganda intended to induce fear and to build a platform for government to disrupt or break off from the tripartite arrangements with the opposition. This strategy I already exposed in a letter dated February 6th and published in the Kaieteur News. Rather than using the situation to stimulate an insightful and meaningful dialogue, the PPP/C again resorted to play divisive politics.
The government strategy seems, clearly, to project itself as the victim in the situation, while attempting to present the opposition as a vindictive, irresponsible bunch, out to, using their new phrase, “hold the PPP/C to ransom”. Those of us who pay careful attention to the PPP/C and their propaganda will not be flabbergasted with this approach by the administration as it is a usual stance taken by them, and by which they hope to lock in sympathetic support from their unsuspecting sympathizers, while they pilfer from the state.
So in the Kaieteur News article dated 18th February 2012 and captioned ‘Ramotar Tripartite arrangement in further jeopardy’, we are informed that on one occasion a PPP/C trio; Presidential Advisor, Gail Teixeira, Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds and Minister of Finance, Ashni Singh held a press conference to lobby sympathy as they told Guyanese that the PPP/C is in order if it does not offer explanation to the people for spending money had for the people’s interest, from donors.
No less a person that the Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, had this to say regarding the situation; “there could hardly be any question about the lack of transparency on the part of the administration,” he continued “as it relates to the foreign funded project the details are listed on the websites of the donor agencies as well as in the budget…”
A couple of things are wrong with this comment;
1. Once there is insufficient explanation given to the people, via their representative, the question of transparency ought to be called into question. I believe it is because of not having that full disclosure that the parliamentary opposition correctly requested the Finance Minister to offer explanations. His declining to offer such explanations is tantamount to lack of transparency on the part of the administration, and blatant contempt for the people of Guyana. Such impertinence cannot and should not be tolerated.
2. Mr. Hinds must know that the government is also obligated to provide explanation to the disbursement and spending of monies had from donor agencies, since these monies received were given to benefit the people, and not the PPP/C party.
Simply put, they are not donations made to the governing political party but to the people of Guyana. The fact that the information is on the donor website is irrelevant. It is arrogant, rude and boorish for Sam Hinds to think it wise to even suggest that the people of Guyana must go and search the website of the donor, if they want to find out how their money will be spent. This is utter rubbish!
Is the government saying to the people of Guyana that the parliament might not be a place where their issues and concerns can be addressed, or is it that the information on the donor website must be traded for the parliament in these instances.
The Prime Minister is well aware that many times the government receives monies, as stated on the donor website, for specific projects, but yet that money is never used for the intended purpose or never gets to the true beneficiaries, the people.
3. My own experience in these matters, of allocation and spending of monies had from donor agencies, tells me that the very agencies would expect the parliamentarians and the citizens to be the watchdogs or overseers in the execution of projects for which their monies are to be used.
I believe it is apposite to state here what happened in 2004 at a conference with donor agencies, held in Trinidad.
In June of 2004 Guyana was represented among several countries, from the Caribbean and Latin America, which met with International Financial Institutions and Donor Agencies, to report on their progress in dealing with the phenomenon of HIV/AIDS in their particular nation.
The international bodies present at the meeting were the main organizations, at that time, which provided monetary aid to countries to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
A most embarrassing moment came for me when it was time for the international donors to report on Guyana’s progress. It was reported that of all the countries represented, at the meeting, Guyana had received the highest amount of donor dollars to fight HIV/AIDS; however, the donors expressed open disappointment that, with respect to Guyana, the progress in fighting the disease was not satisfactory. According to the donors, in the case of Guyana they had found that the money sent to fight HIV/AIDS was not used for the purpose it was intended.
When that comment was made, not only was I embarrassed but I was demoralized, as I saw it as not only reflective of the government’s failure, but as a failure on me as a Guyanese. So I immediately interjected to ask two questions;
1. Why would international donors continue to give countries money when they are aware that the money is not reaching the intended beneficiaries, the people?
2. Whether these donor agencies have specific arrangements or personnel to monitor the implementation and execution of the projects for which their donor dollars were given.
Begrudgingly one person responded that the agencies will have to look at having systems set up to monitor how their donor dollars are spent, but that the ultimate scrutiny and monitoring is usually left up to the parliament and the people of that country.
Since I wanted to blame donors, partially, I did not prolong the matter to tell them that, at the time, the Guyana government would abuse the donor dollars and misuse their donation, because the parliament was continuously bulldozed by the government who passed every piece of paper they brought to the House, with their simple majority.
As for the first question, I don’t recall a specific response given, but I know why?
So donors expect the parliament to protect their donor dollars and to ensure that the money is used for the intended purpose, especially in this era of an opposition parliamentary majority. Threats to break off tripartite talks will be instructive, because with respect to the effective use of donor dollars, it will give donors an indication as to what kind of government operates in Guyana.
The only savior of Guyana.
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