Upon assumption to office in 2015 on a promise of ‘the good life’, the coalition government found that financial mismanagement in the public sector was rife and billions of tax dollars went into bailouts.
President David Granger, the leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) which is the largest party that comprises the Coalition Government, made the disclosure at the opening of the party’s 20th Delegates Congress on Friday at Congress Place, Sophia.
He reported that the situation which the coalition found on assuming office following 23 years of People’s Progressive Party (PPP) rule was worse than could have been imagined.
“It was a hellish inheritance,” Granger stated. He said that financial mismanagement in the public sector was rife, pointing out that billions of dollars were used from the treasury to mop up.
According to Granger, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) was bankrupt and required bailouts which drained the treasury of more than $30B in three years.
The rice industry, he said, had to be supported with $4B to pay paddy farmers owing to the mismanagement of the PetroCaribe Fund.
PetroCaribe was an agreement struck between the governments of Guyana and Venezuela, where Guyana would receive concessionary prices for oil in exchange for rice.
Granger noted that the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) was reeling from involuntary indebtedness and required an injection of $5.4B. NIS, whose Board was chaired by former head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon,
had invested in the BBCI (Berbice Bridge Company Inc), but the institution has been wrestling for its return on investments.
Granger said there were numerous unpaid liabilities, including court judgments in excess of G$7B that had to be settled.
According to Granger, public infrastructure had been undermined by a proliferation of scandals as evident in the costly and shoddy construction of several structures.
Among the scandals he listed was the bridge at Moruca and revetments at Kumaka, in the Barima-Waini Region; the stelling at Supenaam, in the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region; the bridge at Hope, in the Demerara-Mahaica Region; the sugar factory at Skeldon, in the East Berbice-Corentyne Region; the secondary School at Kato, in the Potaro-Siparuni Region; the fibre optic cable project, in the Rupununi Region; and, the head office of the Ministry of Social Protection in Georgetown.
“These infrastructural fiascos were compounded by social distress. Society became plagued by high levels of criminality, disease, emigration, school dropouts, teenage pregnancies, unemployment, suicides and poverty which combined to create a climate of collective despair,” Granger stated.
He said that the Government responded to a deluge of demands from the ordinary people most affected by social problems. According to Granger, people needed change and wanted to see immediate improvements in their lives. The nation, he said, cried out for safety, young people clamoured for jobs and everyone wanted better public services.
During his address, Granger noted that the nation is haunted still by the ghosts of the dead who perished in the carnage and rampage of criminal violence of the deadly ‘troubles’ when there was a wave of criminality roughly between 2000 and 2010 under the PPP administration.
The Inquiry into the Lindo Creek Massacre, for example, Granger said, was alarming, not only for the loss of life, but also for the loss of trust in a few officials and officers.
“It is disquieting that not a single minister or senior official of the previous administration has ever come forward to provide evidence to assist in solving this atrocious crime. Their silence was eloquent testimony of the licence which criminal elements enjoyed during their troubled tenure… during the ‘troubles’,” Granger stated.
He told party supporters that the period was dominated by so-called ‘phantom’ death squads which roamed the countryside nightly and with impunity.
According to Granger, it was a time of uncounted execution murders, uninvestigated massacres, unreported abuses, unimpeded narcotics-trafficking and seemingly unstoppable criminal violence.
“The nation’s soul has been scarred by the criminality and atrocities of that period,” Granger said.
He said the PNCR Congress has a duty, and the country has the right, to find out what happened and to learn the lessons of that criminal atrocity.
“Our coalition Government is bringing reconciliation to the nation and comfort to wounded families. It is pursuing truth and justice for the victims of the criminal violence perpetuated during the ‘troubles’, including the bloody massacres at Agricola, Bagotstown-Eccles, Black Bush Polder, Bourda, Buxton-Friendship, Kitty, La Bonne Intention, Lamaha Gardens, Lindo Creek Lusignan, Prashad Nagar and elsewhere,” Granger stated.
He urged delegates to ensure that the country’s defence and security forces protect society, and are never again infiltrated or manipulated by criminal cartels or corrupt officials.
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