Aug 02, 2014 News
Kaieteur, Stabroek News sidelined, Guyana Times favoured
Government is continuing its practice of denying advertisements to private, independent media houses, opting instead for a Government-friendly newspaper with which it shares close ties.
The latest case involves a Government of Guyana/Caribbean Development Bank- Basic Needs Trust Fund advertisement on July 20.
The advertisement for an Administrative Assistant was placed in the state-owned Guyana Chronicle and the Guyana Times, a newspaper that has close links to the Government but a poor circulation. It produces even less than the Guyana Chronicle and about one-eight of what Kaieteur News prints.
There was none in Kaieteur News or Stabroek News, the two privately-owned newspapers in Guyana with a larger circulation than either of those in which the government placed the advertisement.
It was only in May that a complaint was made to President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. William Smith, and Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh. Smith was here for the CDB’s 44th Annual General Meeting.
During a closing press conference, questions were posed to both officials on the advertising policies by the bank for its funded projects and whether taxpayers really had a fair opportunity to peruse them.
The Finance Minister at the time was unhappy that the question was raised at that forum, but promised to work along with media houses over issues with information and ads placement.
There has been no word from him since then.
Basic Needs, like the Ministry of Housing and Water and other Ministries, would continue to place ads in the Guyana Times, a newspaper owned by Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, a close friend of former President Bharrat Jagdeo, and whose company, New GPC, has been a controversial beneficiary of billions of dollars in drugs contracts for the hospitals. Basic Needs falls under the Ministry of Finance.
The recent advertisement would continue to indicate the scant regard that Government places on ensuring that value for money is received for state resources being spent.
During that press conference in May, the CDB President said he was not aware of the issue and could not comment.
CDB is a major multilateral funding agency for Guyana. It is involved in road and school building projects.
According to the Finance Minister, during that press conference, through the National Assembly, Government has been releasing contract documents often. He made it clear that he is not involved in placing ads, but would be willing to refer the matter to the relevant department if a particular complaint was made.
Back then, Kaieteur News’ Publisher, Glenn Lall, said that the issue is disturbing.
“The issue is not about us getting ads. As a matter of fact, we have offered in the past to carry state ads for free, if it means that our taxpayers will have an opportunity to know how their monies are being spent. But you cannot hide it away where nobody can see. This cannot be value for money.”
The issue is not new, as the Jagdeo administration had removed state ads from both Kaieteur News and Stabroek News before restoring the advertisements in time for the launch of Guyana Times, a few years ago.
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