– says timing suspicious on eve of elections
The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) has vowed to join with the other Opposition parties to review a recent loan granted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), yesterday questioning the entity’s commitment to transparency, accountability, ethics and the rule of law.
WPA, one of the several political parties comprising A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), the country’s largest Opposition, also again called for IDB to disclose whether the monies have been disbursed to Government.
“To date, the IDB has refused the Guyanese public and their parliamentary representatives the courtesy of a response,” the party said in a statement.
“We wish to place on record our strongest condemnation over the egregious actions of the IDB in the face of repeated calls from the Opposition, Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), and other Guyanese stakeholders, to tread carefully on making loans to the Guyana Government on the eve of national elections.”
The party, in noting the Government delayed the dissolution of Parliament by over two weeks from the required date, said it views with suspicion, the approval of more loans.
“The WPA further noted the “coincidence” of the approval of the loans by the IDB, the announcement by His Excellency President Donald Ramotar on February 24th, 2015 on the planned dissolution of Parliament, and the announcement of the Government’ plan to distribute 6,000 solar panels to Amerindian Communities out of the IDB funds. The only thing not done so far is for the IDB to endorse the PPP/Civic,” the WPA stated.
The party said it must now question the IDB’s commitment to transparency, accountability, ethics and the rule of law which the IDB so “self-righteously” claims for itself.
The WPA says that it “hopes that the Bank will now accept this offer of self-redemption by openly declaring if any, of the above-mentioned loans were disbursed, and if either was, or both were, its timing and destination.”
WPA warned the bank that it must be aware that constitutionally such funds must be placed in the Consolidated Fund of Guyana and can only be taken out by way of an Appropriation Act passed by the Parliament.
“The bank’s collusion with the Government at this stage would leave the WPA, in consultation with the members of the joint opposition, no choice but to re-examine the validity of the loans, and by extension its repayment.”
WPA said that it is appalled that the IDB could assume arrogantly that it could ignore the legitimate calls by the WPA and indeed the entire parliamentary Opposition, to show some restraint in its dealings with the PPP/C Government on the eve of general elections. It is entirely up to the IDB whether it wishes to further tarnish its developmental record by going into the political bed of the PPP/Civic.”
WPA said that Guyanese wait impatiently for answers.
On Tuesday, Government announced that Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, signed loan agreements with President of the IDB, Luis Alberto Moreno.
The Opposition has been warning that it will not honour any new transactions, and has also expressed concerns over the unfair use of state resources –including monies- to do campaign work.
The US$32.16M from the IDB comprises two loans, targeting police and prison initiatives as well as the environmental management sectors.
According to the Finance Ministry, one of the two agreements signed is for US$15M. This will finance what is called the Citizen Security Strengthening Project. Under this project, a number of initiatives will be funded, that are aimed at contributing to a reduction in crime and violence such as homicides, burglaries and robberies, and domestic violence in Guyana. It included addressing issues related to repeat offenders.
Under the Environment Sector Strengthening Project, some US$17.16M will be provided in support of policy reforms in the sector. The programme aims to support Guyana in the implementation of its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) with emphasis on climate change initiatives and sustainable natural resources management, the Ministry said.
Over the weekend, the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) objected to the loans being signed, saying it has written the IDB to hold the monies until after the May 11 elections.
GHRA said that the letter was sent Friday to the Country Representative of IDB, in which it says the monies could be misused for electioneering purposes by the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).
In its letter to the bank, the watchdog body said that it is disturbed by the timing of the announcement that the IDB has approved a loan to be spent in furthering the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
“While the GHRA is not suggesting impropriety in the approval process, or of the IDB as an institution, nor disagreeing with the substance of the loan, issues of perception with respect to timing cannot be overlooked.”
The spending of monies was one of the major reasons why the combined Opposition, during the life of the 10th Parliament, moved to pass a no-confidence motion in November. It would have caused the current Government to resign and fresh elections to be called.
However to stave off the no-confidence vote, President Donald Ramotar, in a controversial move, prorogued (suspended) Parliament for six months in November. In the face of mounting pressure from local and international bodies, the President announced elections day as May 11.
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