Jan 17, 2016 News
With the worrying number of road fatalities over the past few years, the Guyana National Road Safety Council (GNRSC) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) as well Government Officials, after witnessing a demonstration by a German license plate company, were impressed however, all that glitters have over time, proven not to be gold.
The company called The UTSCH group – according to its website – is a system provider, whose range of products and services extends to the production of “vehicle license plates and beyond”.
“Regardless of the task at hand, for the identification and registration of the vehicle and the driver, UTSCH concepts provide future-orientated solutions based on state-of-the-art technology; innovative strength, consistent market orientation, tailor-made systems and service solutions to meet customers,” the site stated.
Meanwhile, after Kaieteur News brought to light that the company was planning to send a proposal to Government to have its tech implemented – in an article captioned “German company to send proposal on ‘special’ vehicle plates”, information in the form of extracts and online publications have been provided, indicating that the company was involved in a series of scams in India, Guatemala, Egypt and the Philippines.
During the Guyana National Road Safety Council and Guyana Police Force Year End Press Conference held at the Traffic Headquarters in Eve Leary on December last, representatives of the Council and the Police Force were enthusiastic about the initiative. They said that the “special plates” would aid the police in their mission to curb traffic misdemeanours such as hit and runs, hijackings, etc.
It was further mentioned at the briefing that the feature would also assist in pinpointing persons of interest and persons involved in tax evasion.
The information provided to this publication revealed that in Manila, Philippines three years ago, an anti-corruption “Watchdog” asked the Philippine government to investigate a $3.85 billion contract for vehicle license plates by their Land Transportation Office (LTO).
The Watchdog called on the Philippine Government, particularly their Government Procurement Policy Board Executive Director, Ruby Alvarez, to blacklist UTSCH – representatives of the same company which conducted the demonstration in Guyana – and to prevent the firm from conducting further business in the country since they claim that UTSCH had been involved in a number of high profile corruption cases involving bribery to government officials in exchange for the contract to produce motor vehicle plates.
In 2011, Egypt’s Attorney General charged former Prime Minister, Ahmed Nazif, and two ex-ministers with illegal profiteering and corruption in a case involving UTSCH.
Nazif, former interior Minister Habib el-Adly, and former finance minister Yousef Ghali are alleged to have illegally granted public contracts to UTSCH.
Prosecutors found that UTSCH had been contracted to supply Egypt with metal licence plates for cars at inflated prices, the state-run news portal Egynews reported.
Nazif is alleged to have acted illegally in directly granting the contract to the company while Ghali and el-Adly are accused of having been involved in the deal. An UTSCH’s representative, a German national, was also indicted, Egynews reported. Some months later, an Egyptian Court, after a call for retrial, acquitted the former government officials.
In both cases, the company displayed a characteristic of getting a public figure or person in public office to buy in to their initiative. That person in turn – now committed to the company – will begin to lobby for the company influencing governments, agencies and institutions resulting in improperly favouring and other forms of corruption.
In the past, foreign companies have come to Guyana seeking investment opportunities and have even managed to partner with other local entities however, most promises that were made, were not often carried out hence, causing an outcry from activists, observers and ultimately, the “man on the street”.
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