Mar 20, 2016 News
“If beneficiaries of criminal actions by state officials continue to enjoy the benefits, then corruption is unlikely to be ever stamped out.” – Foreign Affairs Minister
By Kiana Wilburg
Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge, has now added his voice to the debate over the revocation of the granted radio and cable licences under the Jagdeo regime.
Greenidge said that as far as he is aware, the coalition party has not changed its position on this matter.
He made it clear that his support for the revocation of those unlawful licences during the 2015 election campaign remains the same.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said, “I most certainly do hold the same view and, of course, stand by my earlier comments on the matter. Nothing has occurred by way of new information to persuade me to change my mind. The act by former President Bharrat Jagdeo was improper, reprehensible and illegal.”
The Member of Parliament said that as a President, one should not use the position to hand out state assets to family, associates’ families and or political parties. He said that it was wrong in 2011 and it is still wrong.
Greenidge said that if the illegal radio and cable licences are not revoked then Guyana would lose.
“If it were my personal or your property that had been stolen and misappropriated, you would not think it necessary to ask if the wrong committed should be corrected. We should stop regarding national assets and state property as free goods which involve no loss if misappropriated. If we do, then we all lose.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister said that he believes legal grounds do exist for the revocation of the radio and cable licences.
He said that there is always a legal basis on which to challenge actions that public officials are empowered to take under the law.
The Member of Parliament said that such actions are subject to administrative law and are to be exercised in the public interest unless a specified category of beneficiary is named in the law.
Greenidge said that the decision is not to be exercised arbitrarily but on the basis of advice from the relevant competent authority and should not be for the benefit of the public official, his/her associates or relatives. The Foreign Affairs Minister said that officials with certain powers should know that their actions have to be exercised in good faith and for the purposes set out in the Broadcast Act, in a manner consistent with the relevant considerations such as citizens’ rights set out in the Constitution itself.
“Mr Jagdeo’s decision did not meet this test so it should not stand. If beneficiaries of criminal actions by state officials can expect to continue to enjoy the benefits then corruption is unlikely to be ever stamped out. The risk of disclosure, exposure and reversal is itself a powerful deterrent,” expressed the politician.
He continued, “But if wrongdoers and the beneficiaries of wrongdoing know that the improper decisions are likely to be reversed even after the passage of relatively long periods of time they will not be so keen to be party to such behaviour again.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister said that as soon as Jagdeo’s decision was made public, everyone was aware of the fact that it was improper. He said that the beneficiaries, too, would have been immediately aware that they ran the risk of losing the licences and those who were foolish enough to purchase it from them did so in the full knowledge that they ran the risk of loss.
Greenidge said that he would argue for the law to be invoked.
In the meantime, Chairman of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA), Leonard Craig, continues to dodge questions which require him to explain to the nation where the Authority is on the revocation of the illegally granted licences under the Jagdeo regime.
This is in spite of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo making it clear a few days ago that Craig should set the record straight.
Kaieteur News had contacted Craig on the issue. He had said, “I am not willing to make a statement on this matter just yet. We are meeting next week on it. I am not willing to speak on this today and I shall speak on this at a press conference after our meeting.”
The GNBA Chairman said that his Public Relations Officer would be dealing with the information on the related dates. It was since last year that Craig has been promising to meet with the media.
This newspaper also asked Craig if he received reports, whether oral or written, from the subcommittee that was established to look into the issue of the illegally granted broadcasting licenses, among other issues.
To this Craig said, “I guess they will do that at the meeting next week…But that is a matter for the press conference.”
He was also asked to say why the board is only having a meeting regarding the way forward on the matter, when the subcommittee would have been set up by him since last year.
Craig said, “Because now that certain things are being said in the press, it behoves the board to consider and reconsider the matter.”
When this publication contacted the Head of the Subcommittee, Anthony Vieira, he provided more clarity on the issues.
The broadcast veteran said that there are a number of things wrong with Guyana’s broadcasting sector and as such, it becomes imperative for the entire system to be revamped, so that an environment of fairness can be had.
While Craig was not willing to say if he received reports from the subcommittee on the illegal radio licences, Vieira said that this was in fact done since last year with the understanding that revocation must be done.
He noted, however, there are still some kinks which have to be ironed out regarding the way in which it will be accomplished.
Weeks before leaving office, former President Bharrat Jagdeo awarded his best friend, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, five radio frequencies; New Guyana Company Limited, five, and Telcor and Cultural Broadcasting Inc., another five.
Jagdeo also ordered the grant of two cable licences to two of his closest friends, Vishok Persaud and Brian Yong.
GNBA Officials revealed recently that Jagdeo’s ad hoc approach has led to prime spots on the spectrum being taken up. All premium spots on the television and cable channel frequencies are gone. There is little space left for new applicants on the radio spectrum.
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