– appointed Presidential Advisor on sustainable development
By: Kiana Wilburg
Respected local Economist, Dr. Clive Yolande Thomas has been appointed Presidential Advisor on sustainable development.
According to the new administration, Dr. Thomas will assume responsibility for economic matters and the State Assets Recovery Programme.
In a brief telephone interview, Dr. Thomas said that he is elated to serve in the position and intends to do so with “honour and integrity.”
He believes that he will make his country proud and is excited to get to work on the State Assets Recovery Programme, which he spoke to in some of his relatively recent columns.
Given his invaluable contributions to shaping economies regionally, and even economic policies at home, Professor Thomas could arguably be considered one of the most prolific Caribbean Economist of his generation. His scholarship spans all aspects of Economics including theoretical, empirical, mathematical, sociological and political.
He has authored and co-authored 30 books, research monographs/papers. These include, “Guyana: Countering the Risks of Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Arms Proliferation (With Addendum)”; “Eight Essays on the Amaila Falls Hydro Project”; “Thirty Years After the Third World Debt Crisis: Sovereign Debt Stress in CARICOM (With Specific Reference to Guyana)”, and a Study prepared for the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, March 2011, co-authored with Dr. Thomas Singh.
Dr. Thomas has also published over 154 academic articles and contributions to books/research monographs and presented invited papers to a similar number of academic conferences, symposia and seminars.
His major fields of research interests and publications include Macro-economics and Finance, as well as in Small and Micro-economies, Development Economics, with special emphasis on growth, trade, finance, agriculture (sugar), environment, and natural resources, Social Sector Economics, with special emphasis on poverty analysis and eradication measures.
He was the recipient of the Cacique Crown of Honour for Contributions to Education; Government of Guyana National Awards Scheme in 1994 and the George Beckford Award for Contributions to Caribbean Economy, Association of Caribbean Economists, in 2001.
Since the APNU+AFC government took office, Dr. Thomas in his writings has been calling for a State Asset Recovery Programme. The government took his advice and is currently pursuing such.
Thomas insists that it is of critical importance for attention to be placed on recovering stolen public assets.
He said that the “rampant corruption under the 23-year rule of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C)” should not be ignored. Dr. Thomas stated that any new government pursuing good governance would seek to recover the nation’s assets, which were mismanaged in “some of the most despicable and corrupt ways.”
He had said, “A clear line must be drawn against past illicit/corrupt behaviours in order to prevent their future repetition.”
He asserted that the corruption that has been taking place in Guyana can be deemed public and not private, because it is based on fraudulent public procurements contracts, illegal capital flows, particularly illicit mis-invoicing of exports and imports and illicit financial transactions, and an underground economy that is driven principally by criminal endeavours illegal evasion of taxes and regulatory evasion.
Dr. Thomas believes that the new administration can make bountiful gains by eradicating certain practices. The economist projected that the APNU+AFC government could rake in a modest $21B in total revenues and another $6B from PetroCaribe savings once illicit siphoning-off practices are halted.
“I have also estimated that Guyana can recover almost $333-340 Billion from the areas I cited earlier, but I wish to emphasize that I cannot provide independent valuation of corrupt practices in state enterprises…So the $333-$340B estimation therefore understates the actual size of the pool of annual recoverable stolen public assets. What part of this clearly underestimated pool of stolen public assets might actually be recovered is open to speculation,” he added.
Dr. Thomas then proposed a mechanism whereby the newly-elected government could, “at this unique democratic opening,” embark on seeking resources and justice for Guyanese whose national wealth has been stolen by “the greedy” in recent years.
He said that this can be done through some simple steps in which the APNU+AFC administration can proceed with a stolen public assets recovery programme.
He said that the first step would be to establish a public body dedicated to the initiative for recovering stolen public assets, followed by invoking Guyana’s responsibilities, duties and entitlements under the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
That Convention came into force in 2005. Guyana acceded to it in 2008. It states that: “stolen public assets recovery is a fundamental principle of the Convention”. Further, all 175 UN Members of the Convention have formally agreed to confiscate such assets, returning it to the state requesting it, “to send a message to corrupt officials that there will be no place to hide their illicit assets”.
Further, Dr. Thomas said that the third step would be for the local body suggested at step one, to formally request assistance, technical and otherwise, as is available under UNCAC, whose implementation is supported by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNDOC). Given the coalition origins of APNU+AFC, the economist said that for the fourth step, he would recommend that civil society organizations, especially the internationally-affiliated Human Rights Association, the local chapter of Transparency International, the Trades Union Congress, and private sector, be encouraged to participate in the initiative, as presently permitted.
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