Mar 07, 2015 News
– says projects that abuse taxpayers’ dollars will be halted, reviewed
By: Kiana Wilburg
As the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) gears for its first election campaign rally in a few weeks, some of the members recently disclosed their concern for the number of regional and foreign loans taken by the government and the long term impact on the economy, in terms of the debt accumulated over the years.
While Central Bank Governor, Dr. Gobind Ganga said that Guyana’s debt is being managed quite well, APNU’s Shadow Minister of Finance, Carl Greenidge, remains unconvinced.
Greenidge spoke briefly about the APNU+AFC’s plans, once the coalition assumes office, to deal with the nation’s current debt status due to the loans taken. He also expressed concern about some developmental projects piloted by the government which he deems as being clear representations of abuse of taxpayers’ money.
Some of these identified are the Marriott Hotel, the Skeldon Sugar Factory and Government’s One Lap Top for Family Programme, which leaves the nation in debt that extends to 2032.
The former Finance Minister said that some of these programmes will have to be halted immediately to bring an end to the absence of convincing feasibility or technical proposals such as. the case with the yet to be completed Hope Canal project.
He said that the AFC had sponsored a resolution adopted by the National Assembly to the effect that further public monies should not be spent on the Marriott Hotel and since it has been revealed that the hotel was fully funded with taxpayers’ dollars, Greenidge said that the actions of NICIL will need to be assessed in light of that decision.
The Shadow Finance Minister articulated, too, that a debt policy will be agreed on and implemented. He explained that the level of external borrowing undertaken by the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) since 2006 has exceeded all the borrowing ever undertaken by the previous Governments combined.
In light of Guyana’s “poor export performance,” he said that such economic decisions on loans are damaging and unsustainable and will be brought down to acceptable levels.
The APNU+AFC, he said, will have to decide what to do about lenders and debts who have been lending when the Parliament was prorogued or while the government has been spending illegally.
The politician said that the internal debt has also reached unprecedented levels and cannot be allowed to continue.
He said, too, that a policy will be agreed, announced and adhered to.
Greenidge added that a number of outstanding matters from the Tenth Parliament also need to be dealt with expeditiously in order to support a new era of accountability. He noted that it should be possible to dispatch some of these including the legislation on telecommunications and the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill.
The Opposition Member said that it is also important that one bears in mind, that a National Assembly has to depend on its power of denial of funds whenever the Executive fails to meet certain standards and to honour its obligations to the legislators and the public in general. He said that this should be observed regardless of who forms the Executive to support the principle of accountability.
He added, “The achievement of the 10th Parliament has been to firmly hold the Government’s feet to the fire and when the Government failed, it used its power of denial, which is, withholding funds and a No-Confidence Motion.
“For that historic event, the PPP can thank the foolish and arrogant behaviour of Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, who on the basis of contemptible and cynical advice from Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, not only showed utter contempt for the representatives of the people, but repeatedly broke the country’s laws in pursuit of partisan and corrupt policies aimed at making a few PPP supporters and friends rich at the expense of Guyanese taxpayers and the public in general.”
The Shadow Minister of Finance also stated that financial probity is of great importance to the APNU+AFC and stressed that the electorate deserves a government that is committed to bringing progress while avoiding the mistakes of the PPP in stifling accountability.
Greenidge said that the issue of financial probity will be central to the work of the APNU+AFC as it is one of the top three concerns of the public.
The partnership intends to end nepotism, political and other interventions which result in hard-earned taxpayers’ income being misappropriated for the benefit of relatives, associates and members of the PPP or even the political party in office.
Greenidge said that accountability can be made more effective by bringing light to areas where darkness normally prevailed under the PPP regime.
He asserted that one way of doing this, is to make information available once there is no risk to commercial viability of firms in the sector. The Shadow Finance Minister said that there is legislation on access to information and that should be honoured.
The politician stated that the APNU+AFC favours civil society’s involvement in governance. As such, he said that it will arrange for the planning of programmes to reduce the incidence of criminality and violence, and improving the utilization of natural resources in such a manner that it involves civil society representatives in the new age of accountability.
The same he said will apply to monitoring the implementation of those programmes and the reviews of their impact and effectiveness.
“We shall also be looking quite early at the working of the Department of Audit, the Police Force and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in this context, given their politicization under the PPP,” He added.
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