By Kiana Wilburg
When it comes to the release of contracts, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo finds the current administration “duplicitous.”
The politician made this, among other comments, on Friday at a press conference at his
Church Street Headquarters. Jagdeo said that the aforementioned point is one which has been made in the daily newspapers.
The Opposition Leader also reminded of the government’s comments, to the effect that the PPP was signing off on a number of secret deals and was not releasing key contracts. Jagdeo even emphasized that it was the coalition party which promised that it would do better. However it is yet to fulfill same, said Jagdeo.
Jagdeo stated that while there are calls for the release of contracts such as those for BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc. and the Sanata Complex, there should be the release of the Guyana Stores Agreement and the Guyana Stockfeeds Agreement.
Jagdeo said, “They (APNU+AFC) spoke about the Fip Motilall Agreement. And we said why don’t you release the evaluation report for the Fip Motilall (Amaila Falls) road because you have the evaluation report about how the decision was made and who did the evaluation…They have refused to release it.”
He continued, “The BaiShanLin agreement, they have it there. It is with (the Guyana Revenue Authority) not kept in Jagdeo’s pocket…So they can easily release that.
“The Privatization Unit had all the agreements that (the Special Organized Crime Unit) seized. They took a truck over and fetched away all the documents…”
The Opposition Leader added, “I have seen the call to release various contracts, the Sanata Complex etc. but I hope that they would release the one for Guyana Stores because I heard a few people own shares there. I am not going to say who…”
POT CALLING KETTLE BLACK
Some critics might argue that Jagdeo’s aforementioned commentary is a perfect example of the “pot calling the kettle black.”
Under the Jagdeo-Ramotar regime, calls by the media for the release of contracts and agreements fell on deaf ears. And when the former administration did respond to the media, it was only to point out that it is unable to fulfill the request due to “confidentiality clauses”.
This was the case of the Marriott Hotel contract. Former NICIL Chief Executive Officer, Winston Brassington, had told the media fraternity that the contract for the controversial, Chinese-built hotel could not be released due to confidentiality clauses.
WAITING IN VAIN?
It has been over two years, and the Government is yet to release a number of contracts and concession agreements which have been requested by the media. This is in spite of the fact that President David Granger had given the permission or the “okay” for this to be done.
Kaieteur News had raised this issue with the Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, at his post-cabinet press briefing.
Harmon was told that members of the media have been calling for the release of concession agreements for BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc., Vaitarna Holdings Private Inc. and the contract governing the Sanata Complex deal. But these are yet to be released even though media operatives were told earlier that they can be made available.
The Cabinet Secretary had said, “I cannot say anything about it. It is a matter which has been brought to the attention now of the government that these are contracts that are required. I am sure if the appropriate authorities are written to, because a lot of these contracts you can’t just ask and you will get it.”
Harmon continued, “There is a process by which you get access to these contracts. But I cannot specifically address the ones that you have spoken about because the impact of these contracts has been widely reported in the same newspaper that you are connected to.”
The Minister of State added, “I cannot say with respect to the contracts why they are not released and where they are but I believe that any contracts in that regard they will have to be at the Ministry of Finance. That is where it should be.”
Apart from the Head of State giving the permission for contracts to be released, his sentiments have also been echoed by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan.
He had said that information regarding any aspect of the concessions granted to foreign and/or local companies under the past regime is not state secrets.
Jordan said that the media, or any member of the public for that matter, have a right to know how the nation has benefitted in this regard. He reiterated that data on such subjects should not be treated as “state secrets”.
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