When the AFC and the APNU joined forces to contest the May 11, 2015 General and Regional Elections, both parties promised to be a sweeping force against corruption. Both vowed that there would be a new era of Governance and that they would honour their election promises.
In fact, President David Granger declared that he would not condone in the slightest manner, misbehavior in any form by this ministers. Sixteen months later, the Coalition Government is yet to address 16 major issues. In fact, it has developed a few scandals of its own.
Here are those 16 issues:
1. GTT SHARES
The controversial National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) had sold the Government’s investment in GT&T in 2012 for US$30M of which US$25M was received. The remaining US$5M is yet to be received and Guyana is yet to know what really took place.
2. FORENSIC AUDITS
From last year to now, over 30 forensic audits and special reports on a number of controversial projects and agencies have been released by the coalition administration.
These reports which have cost taxpayers more than $100M, document numerous instances of corruption, mismanagement and abuse of state resources.
In spite of this, there has been no action of consequence against those who have been fingered in the corrupt acts, and the public remains uninformed.
3. SANATA COMPLEX /WELL
For more than three decades, this well was under the control of Government. Then in the last decade, a water well at the Sanata Textile Complex, Ruimveldt was sold for an unstated price. In fact, thenationis uncertain if the well was actually sold or simply handed over with the complex.
What is known was that the transaction was done under questionable circumstances by NICIL to Queens Atlantic Investments Inc, a group of companies under the direction of Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, the best friend of former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
Dr Ramroop was found to be in breach of all the terms and conditions of the Purchase Agreement for the Complex.
Since the matter of the well has come to the attention of the Government, no prompt action has been taken to review the Sanata Complex Deal with an aim to retrieve what is essentially a state asset.
4. CONTRACTS TO BE RELEASED
Despite President David Granger himself saying that he believes all contracts and concession agreements should be made public, a brick wall continues to face media operatives who try to get such documents.
Transparency advocates believe that this should not be the case. They are saying that citizens have a right to know what is going on once the information does not interfere with national security.
5. BOND SCANDAL/SOLE SOURCING
The reasons offered by a Cabinet sub-committee to justify the continued use of a controversial Sussex Street storage bond for drugs and other medical supplies has highly offended several anti-corruption activists.
Chartered Accountant Anand Goolsarran insists that the excuses represent “a grave insult to the intelligence of the nation”.
He said that given the controversy surrounding the drug bond which is owned by Lawrence Singh of Linden Holdings Inc., the excuses provided by the three-man sub-committee were ludicrous.
The subcommittee, comprising Minister of State, Joseph Harmon; Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman; and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, made it clear that the continued use of the Sussex Street bond is necessary even though an international report categorically states that the state-owned Diamond warehouse has the capacity to hold all of the nation’s drugs and more.
In defence of the Public Health Minister, Dr. George Norton, the sub-committee said it is not safe to have all of the nation’s drugs and medical supplies in one facility, in case of a fire or some natural disaster that can have calamitous consequences to the national health care system. The sub-committee stated, too, that the location of the Diamond warehouse can affect distribution of medical supplies, given traffic congestion issues that are associated with the East Bank thoroughfare.
In all of its explanations, it still fails to tell the nation why it engaged in sole sourcing as opposed to public tendering.
Guyana later learnt through the press that the country has 15 other drugs storage facilities that are not being fully utilized.
6. THAT HARMON TRIP
Local financial analysts continue to question that contentious trip made by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, to China. They are simply convinced that the explanations provided to justify his actions are too phony to swallow.
He was supposed to face the media and explain his trip. Instead, he sent a press release with very vague information. Harmon claimed that on his trip he conducted meetings with several officials including those of the controversial logging company, BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc. But Harmon—the Minister of State—while on this business trip had no official with him from the Ministry of Business or any other relevant person.
Additionally, he claimed that he returned to Guyana with documents on the GTT shares fiasco. The nation is yet to see proof of this.
7. PRADOVILLE TWO CASE
The infamous Pradoville Two case remains a crucial area of contention with many local critics. It has been more than nine months and no action has been taken.
8. INFAMOUS LAND DEALS
A significant portion of the front part of the former cane fields, stretching from Eccles to Diamond, has ended up mainly in the hands of close friends of the PPP leaders and party officials.
The situation has now left Government scrambling to find lands for almost 10,000 applicants for house lots that are reportedly pending.
Government has been saying for months that it would investigate these land deals and revoke those which were found to be illegally granted. It is yet to do this.
9. BK SETTLEMENT
For months, several Government officials sought to defend the US$5.7M out-of-court settlement with BK International, claiming that had the government decided to challenge any suit, then it would have risked losing double the amount.
The Government officials also suggested that BK International’s initial claim of US$10M was made before the courts, hence the haste to hammer out the deal and pay the contractor off as quickly as possible.
Relentlessly, this newspaper tried to get hold of documents to that effect, but all efforts proved futile. Court officials said that no such records existed. Attorney General Basil Williams refused to cooperate with the newspaper, and the owner of the company, Brian Tiwarie, made numerous promises to provide the mystery document, but failed to do so.
Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan subsequently revealed that BK never moved to the court for compensation. He said that by way of letter, BK made a claim for over US$10M to the government. Why Government caved due to a letter as opposed to taking BK to court for breaching his very contract remains unanswered.
10. BK $900M STEEL
The questionable acquisition by BK International of eight containers of steel, worth hundreds of millions of dollars from Government, is refusing to go away.
A valuation of the contents of the containers early last year had placed the value around $900M. BK claimed that it received the eight containers of steel based on a court judgment which was executed in July last year.
That judgment came after BK sued Indian contractor, Surendra Engineering Company Limited (SECL), for work on the troubled Specialty Hospital at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara. BK was claiming $180M in a lawsuit filed in mid-2014.
How the company received the $900M worth in steel when its judgment was for $180M is what is raising questions.
More importantly, why all eight containers were handed over is what remains baffling and the government continues to remain quiet on the issue.
11. ABUSE OF CONTINGENCIES FUND
Over the years, the abuse of the Contingencies Fund was a topical issue for the coalition Government. To date, it has found itself guilty of the same charge. One glaring case was the removal of $25M from the Contingencies Fund to pay the security deposit for the controversial bottom-house drug bond.
12. FUEL EXPORT LICENCE
Government’s silence over a fuel import and wholesale licence granted to a company that was formed just three months before the historic May 11, 2015 elections, remains deafening.
The company, Atlantic Fuels Inc., has five directors, one of which is Dr. Richard Van-West Charles. He is the head of GWI.
With fuel being one of the most lucrative of business in Guyana, rivaling gold for generating cash, licences have been a coveted thing for businessmen wanting to enter the trade.
13. KATO SCHOOL INVESTIGATIONS
On August 7, last Kaieteur News carried a story stating that the Chambers of the Attorney General would be conducting an investigation into the Kato Secondary School in light of numerous defects which were found during a site visit. To date, AG Basil Williams is yet to state what has become of this investigation and if the responsible contractors would be held liable for producing shoddy work.
14. SIGNIFICANT WAGE INCREASE
The coalition administration was extremely critical of the PPP regime for its inconsequential salary and wages scheme for public servants. In its manifesto, it promised to give those public servants a significant increase.
It has since noted that a 10 percent increase is all that it can manage. The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has since rejected the government’s so called “final” offer especially since the Party had given its ministers a 50 percent salary bump when it got into office.
15. EMPLOYMENT FOR YOUTHS
During APNU+AFC campaign trail, the party made a solemn promise to create jobs for the unemployed mainly the youths who came out in their numbers and voted at the 2015 general and regional election in support of APNU+AFC party. But to date, the APNU+AFC Government is still to put systems in place to fulfill their job creation promise.
In fact, President David Granger is noted in the media as saying that it is not government’s responsibility to do so. He had said, “There is no magic wand…Employment is not something to be provided by the government. There is self-employment and we are working with the villages to generate more employment in those villages but it is going to be agro-based employment.”
16. RADIO LICENCES
During the election campaign, the Coalition complained on numerous occasions that it suffered from the PPP’s domination of the airwaves.
During its time in the Opposition benches, it called over and over for the revocation of those licences which were illegally granted by former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, to his friends, family members and favourites before he ended his terms in office, back in 2011.
Even with new board members in place at the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority since last year, the Government is still to say how soon the nation can see the settling of this matter which it deemed on several occasions to be a national tragedy.
Is President David Granger serious about election promises, transparency and accountability?
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