Feb 20, 2016 News
During a press conference yesterday, the Rice Producers’ Association (RPA), told media operatives that the government has “subverted” the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) for the sole-sourcing of fertiliser.
The association related that Cabinet recently approved a contract for the procurement of urea fertilizers to the value of approximately $420M, with the executing agent being the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB).
In a recent press release, the GRPA said that this move is in direct contravention of laws, norms and conventions applicable to the acquisition of farmers’ inputs.
They also stated that there was no advertisement and bidding, which is the “imperative prelude to a process that follows the prescribed conventions for the sourcing of farming supplies”.
“The contractor identified is not known to be a supplier of urea but has been a popular and publicly-known campaign fancier of the APNU/AFC Coalition in the recent elections.”
The RPA said that companies and individuals who have for decades supplied urea to the Guyanese market, at “highly competitive prices” that were negotiated by the RPA – which is the rice farmers’ representative, were not notified of the contract.
“In its capacity of the farmers’ mandate representative, the RPA said that they have condemns the contravention of the laws, norms and protocols for the acquisition of farmers’ inputs, and the subversion of the GRDB, for corrupting the processes governing the provision of essential goods to the farming community: in essence, using the farmers’ money to reward campaign financiers, which seems to be the culmination of a pre-elections promise and/or deal.”
“The new development is not only an abdication of the government’s responsibility to source farmers’ inputs at the most competitive prices; it is also a further burden to the embattled farmers, because the new price being quoted is $5000 per bag of urea, which is $500 above the current price.”
The RPA said that their call for the intervention of Board Members does not include “Naitram and Rahman”, to do the decent thing and condemn the “Machiavellian actions by the APNU/AFC, because they are expected to fully endorse anything the government does, however inimical it is to the industry.”
“This planned contractual deal is the perceived reason that the government rejected the RPA representatives on the GRDB Board of Directors; although it is a stipulation of the GRDB Act. This is open disdain by the government for citizens whom they fooled with their pre-elections rhetoric of ‘restoring accountability and transparency.”
The RPA, as the farmers’ mandated representative, is demanding that the government immediately ceases its “authoritarian and undemocratic actions” and instead fulfil its pre-election promises to avail every possible assistance to ensure the viability of the rice industry, instead of a “pandering to the interests of political cronies and acting in a dictatorial manner in direct contradiction of campaign promises, to the detriment of the industry in particular and the nation in general”.
The RPA also made comparisons between the government and the former regime, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), who they stated “always bargained, through the combined efforts of the GRDB and RPA, for competitive prices for farming inputs given all challenges of the agricultural sector”.
The association continued that the PPP/C would often also, subsidise inputs to sustain the sector when it was faced with challenges that threatened its viability.
The former government had, conversely, in direct response to the global crisis, through the RPA and GRDB as executing agents, funded the farming community with a $400M grant allocation for the acquisition of fertiliser, the construction of 12 drying facilities in all rice-growing areas, and for technical purposes.
“This was among many other initiatives they implemented to sustain and promote growth of the agriculture sector”.
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