The nation experienced some very silly and childish politics with both Presidents – Jagdeo and Ramotar –and their Ministers. With each passing day, we are seeing the same genre of foolish deportment with both PNC leaders and the bigwigs in the AFC. If ever there was a government’s explanation to its people that made the intellectual credentials of its leaders look flaky, it is the official response of the US$18M signing bonus and its related dimensions. There isn’t anything about it that makes sense.
Let’s trace the stages. 1- The press and others have been asking about a bonus EXXON paid the State. This curiosity was never answered even in the briefest of ways. The subject was never touched upon by any senior minister and the president himself.
If in an era where the new government inherited an administration controlled by a party that was twenty-three years in power, there will be leaks. There are hundreds of persons in sensitive positions in the state that owe their livelihood to what the previous regime did for them. They are going to pass on information that must come to the desks to people who are critics. Apart from that; why the APNU+AFC leaders feel in this age secrets of State can be permanently stashed away?
2- When evidence surfaced of the paid bonus, infantilities ran wild. Minister Jordan’s attitude reminded us of the PPP regime. He said no one asked him a specific, particular, direct question about the bonus. It was an overbearing response. He was playing with words and he came out looking terrible.
Mr. Jordan and other ministers were asked about a bonus. The answer was simple –yes or no or yes with explanation or no with details. But there was no answer. This meant only one thing and no spinning will convince even a child – The government did not want to tell the nation of the payment.
3- The Guyanese people are now told that the President knew all along, but because of sensitive security issues the money could not be revealed even to other Cabinet members. This is an obfuscation to mask dishonest politics. If a major foreign investor gave the government an extra payment on its investment, and there are questions being asked about it, the country’s leadership has an obligation to acknowledge the money and offer a reason why it cannot be discussed. This did not happen. The State refused to acknowledge EXXON’s gift until it was exposed.
4- President Granger said he knew all along about the transaction and that the money was put in an escrow account. Well he did not get good advice on what constitutes an escrow account. The money is not in such an account. It calls into question what type of advice he gets and from whom.
5- The President said that the transaction was wrapped up in security details and such details could not be made public. And what are the security ramifications? Here is where the infantilities spread. The nation is told that our enemy, Venezuela, will now know how much we have to pay for legal advice when the border issue is heard in the World Court.
Surely, this has to be a foolish thing to say. In what way Guyana’s security is compromised if Venezuela knows that Guyana has US$18 million to pay lawyers?
If there is justification for this response I would dearly love to see a description of how the disclose of that sum will be an advantage to Venezuela. All the countries in the world know that Governments have to pay high priced lawyers to argue international disputes before the World Court.
But more than this; how can Venezuela know the exact amount we are paying the lawyers? It could well be far less or far more than US$18M.
6- Where is the justification for not putting the money into the consolidated fund? I am under the assumption that when the government spends money on foreign items it utilizes foreign exchange which comes from the Consolidated Fund. Why must the administration put aside a specific sum of foreign exchange in a separate account?
7- The President said that he made all the related decisions. But he has to know even if they come from his pen, that doesn’t mean all of them are legal. The President has suffered from a few reversals in the High Court stemming from his pen.
Finally, now that details are public, can the President say what will be the adverse effects on Guyana’s security?
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