Aug 21, 2017 News
While it was the practice under the PPP to have almost every contract painted with confidentially or non-disclosure clauses, the current government is adamant that it would not walk in the same path.
According to Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson, contracts which are entered into under the APNU+AFC government will not include such clauses.
At his party’s most recent press conference, the AFC Executive Member reminded that contracts such as those involving the Sanata Complex, the Marriott Hotel and BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc were all crafted under the previous administration. He, along with his other AFC colleagues, stressed that those contracts contain confidentiality clauses. As such; the Government is unable to disclose them to the citizenry.
Patterson noted however, “We don’t as a government, include non-disclosure clauses into our contracts. I can say for my remit, the only contract of significance from my end is the (one for the) Berbice Bridge…But even though the contract says that I can’t release it, if you ask me anything on the contract I would answer it honestly, but to release it, we can be challenged legally.”
On the flipside of Patterson’s arguments, there are still several local critics who are of the view that the Government may be walking in the same footsteps as its predecessor.
This conclusion is grounded in the fact that despite relentless calls from various sections of society, contracts for major development projects still remain beyond the reach of public scrutiny.
Some of these projects involve the Sanata Complex deal, the Berbice River Bridge, the Marriott Hotel and BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc. When the coalition government served time in the Opposition, it continuously called for the contracts of these very projects to be released.
Additionally, President David Granger had expressed the belief that such contracts should be fully disclosed to the public.
The Head of State made it clear that he believes in full disclosure and has no intention of changing his mind on that front. He told this newspaper that this is what the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and the other branches of government should do – make concession agreements and contracts public.
Granger noted however that there are exceptions. In this regard, he said that the procurement of defence equipment should be kept under wraps. The President added, “In some situations in which equipment is supplied under the agreement of secrecy by foreign countries, depending on the nature of the equipment, we are of course not free to disclose, because you agree with another country that you would not do so.”
Aside from this, the President reiterated his belief that commercial agreements should not be treated as “state secrets” and that they should be fully disclosed.
This view is also one that is shared by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan. He said that information regarding any aspect of the concessions granted to foreign and/or local companies under the past regime are 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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