It seems that with each passing day the nation is being fed a dose of secret deals signed by the Bharrat Jagdeo administration. Just before the elections, news came that President Jagdeo had entered into an agreement with a Chinese firm for the construction of the Marriott hotel in Guyana.
There were other agreements, not least among them a move to expand the Cheddi Jagan International Airport runway. This contract involves the total reconstruction of the airport terminal. There were others, each equally controversial in that, they were undertaken without the knowledge of people. It was as though these contracts were part of a private measure and were of no interest to the people of Guyana.
Every country that undertakes development that would impact the people would usually inform the people because they are the ultimate beneficiaries. They must have a say in the project because the money involved, comes from the public treasury.
It was most unfortunate that in just about every case of the deal being exposed, the people informing the Guyanese were the foreign partners. These foreign partners were from countries where public arrangements could not have been concluded without the knowledge of the people.
The secrecy leads to allegations of corruption and suggestions of wrongdoing. In the months before the elections some were openly accusing the Jagdeo administration of theft. There was an ugly exchange in the press when the government finalized the One Laptop Per Family arrangement with the Chinese. There was secrecy about the specifications and other aspects of the project to the extent that President Jagdeo himself concluded that not enough was being said about the project.
He recognised that in the absence of information, wrong information would be disseminated and these could often be mistaken for the truth, with serious consequences. Yet he continued in this vein as the elections neared.
The political opposition, unlike the PPP when it was in the opposition, did not seek foreign intervention to curtail the signing of contracts so close to the elections. And President Jagdeo made bold to say that the foreign powers do not run Guyana. The result is that there are contracts that have been presented as fait accompli to the nation.
For President Donald Ramotar to review these contracts would be a good thing but the people in his party would accuse him of undermining party unity by questioning President Jagdeo’s decision. Indeed, Ramotar, for his part, has repeatedly said that the nation must remember that he campaigned on a platform of continuity.
The contracts and deals were one thing; there were other aspects of secrecy on the part of the government that people began to wonder whether President Jagdeo was a vacationing President or whether there were so many state affairs that he barely had time to spend in Guyana.
He left and returned and the nation was none the wiser. Sometimes, he would brief the press on the outcome of the visits but more often these visits were as secret as these deals that are now surfacing.
Everyone in the administration has sought to justify the secrecy. Prime Minister Sam Hinds contends that if the details are made public then if there is a change, the people could accuse the government of lying. This is so trivial. People are not fools; they are capable of understanding changes in any programme.
To suggest that they would hold on to original announcements as though they are the ultimate announcements is to belittle the intelligence of the people. It could be the perception that the people are not as smart as they should be that causes the government to continue to do things in the absence of the people.
Head of the Privatisation Unit made bold to say that the government simply does not conduct its business in the public. He too has a poor view of the people of Guyana.
The issue at hand forces the rest of the nation to understand the parliamentary gridlock. The opposition in parliament is demanding transparency and this is how it should be in any country.
We are now left to wonder how many other secret deals there are out there and whether any of them will actually benefit the nation.
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