“Every day we are finding out how Guyana has been divided up among a tiny cabal. For me, this represents a crime against the Guyanese people that should not be left untouched..” – Dr. Hinds
By Kiana Wilburg
The recent support by certain Government officials for the revocation of radio, television and cable licences arbitrarily granted under the Jagdeo regime, is a positive development in the direction of justice and fairness, said University Professor, Dr. David Hinds.
He noted however that the endorsement for the revocation as expressed by Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge and Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan is not enough.
Dr. Hinds said that the Government must have a clear agenda on tackling this issue and corruption as a whole under the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C). He is also challenging the Government to come forward with a statement to set the record straight.
In examining the issue, Dr. Hinds asserted that the legality of the giveaway of those licences by former President Bharrat Jagdeo is much more complex than meets the eye.
“Mr. Jagdeo may be deemed to have acted lawfully and within the limits of his authority as President, but that does not make his action politically, morally and even constitutionally correct.”
The University Professor said that a Government is expected to balance presidential authority with natural justice. With this principle in mind, he is convinced that Jagdeo did not do that.
Dr. Hinds said that the giveaway of the licenses is also part of a larger “heist” of Guyana. The political activist asserted that the wholesale transfer of common resources through so-called “lawful” but dubious means had become part and parcel of the mode of governance under the previous government at all levels, from the national government right down to the local authorities.
He opined that the scale of transfer of the national patrimony into selected private hands also has negative consequences for the ability of government to carry out its basic functions and responsibilities.
Dr. Hinds contended that the government now has direct access to fewer resources. Furthermore, he said that the economy is now at the mercy of those private entities and individuals that disproportionately benefited from the heist of the prime parts of the broadcasting sector.
“They can decide, as some have done, to sell the assets to others for astronomically more than they acquired them for. People have got rich by pilfering from the rest of us. It has to stop.”
Dr. Hinds also contended that there are ethnic implications of the giveaway of the licenses and other State assets. He explained that most of those assets were given to the elites of one ethnic group.
The University Professor added, “In our fragile ethnic environment, the notion of ethnic injustice is bound to raise its head at some point. Every day we are finding out how Guyana has been divided up among a tiny cabal. For me, this represents a crime against the Guyanese people that should not be left untouched.”
Dr. Hinds argued that the number one item of this government’s mandate should be to recover those assets. He said that is why there is a State Asset Recovery Unit (SARU), headed by Professor Clive Thomas. He said that SARU should be handling such matters.
“And that is why I found the Prime Minister’s (Moses Nagamootoo) initial comments troubling. You set up an Asset Recovery Unit but then Nagamootoo turns around and urges for the Guyana National Broadcasting Unit (GNBA) to issue more licences instead of urging them to recover what represents one of the most barefaced instances of misappropriation of State Assets,” expressed Dr. Hinds.
He said, “It is against that background that I find the stances of the three senior ministers (Greenidge, Ramjattan and Roopnaraine) to revoke the licences, comforting. It shows that the Prime Minister was not speaking for the government.”
Dr. Hinds noted, however that Ramjattan, Roopnaraine and Greenidge are also not speaking for the government, even if their views may represent a majority in the Government.
He said what is needed is a clear, unequivocal position by the government not only on this matter of the license, but more importantly on how it intends to deal with the larger issue of what Professor Thomas calls “criminalization” of the State by the former Government.
He asserted that Greenidge’s position that corruption must not be left unchecked is absolutely correct.
Dr. Hinds said if Government does not confront and root out that level of corruption which obtained under the PPP, then it would be signaling to the nation that it is complicit in institutionalizing a new level of corruption in the State for decades to come.
He said that the possibility that the Government may have to pay compensation to the beneficiaries of State Plunder should not stand in the way of the course of Justice and the de-criminalization of the State.
The University Professor said it is for the aforementioned reason that he is challenging the Government to make a clear statement on the matter.
“One continues to get the feeling that the governing parties have not yet hammered out a cohesive vision. There seems to be no clear and consistent sense of how to approach these big issues. If they are to govern effectively they would have to do that sooner rather than later.”
The political activist said that it appears as if the Cabinet is the only real effectively functioning institution of the Coalition. He noted however that vision and general political strategy and tactics cannot be framed in Cabinet; they have to be worked out away from the day to day governance of the country.
In fact, Dr. Hinds said that Cabinet deliberations should be informed by this larger vision. He said that the inability to arrive at this cohesive vision is one of the problems of Partnership Government as consensus takes longer to be arrived at. He said that this should not be a deterrent. The Buxtonian stressed that it should be an incentive to try harder.
“I still believe that President David Granger’s last address to the National Assembly is a good document to begin that conversation. A government without a large vision could survive, but its survival would always be tenuous,” concluded Dr. Hinds.
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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