Sep 24, 2020 Letters
The 2020 inconspicuous budget debate has revealed many irregularities by former senior government officials, many of whom it was alleged had abused their power, violated the rule of law and in the process have violated their oath of office. It is important to mention that an oath of office is a solemn and sacred tradition and is a pledge by public officials to ensure their honesty and proper behavior while in office. It is also to ensure the judicious and adequate use of public funds.
Unfortunately, as unveiled during the meek discussions on the 2020 budget, there has been a series of violations, malicious abuse of power and skullduggery by some unethical senior members of the former administration. For example, the granting of a contract worth over G$20 million to a dubious company in Florida to print blank copies of birth certificates at a cost of G$1500. In another instance, it has been revealed during the 2020 budget debate that there were gross misconduct and pilfering in the granting of contract by officials of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to purchase asphalt from the company at Garden of Eden.
Then there is the ongoing US$150 million-plus expansion project at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri, which after five years is not completed. The CJIA project which seems to be a never-ending project has been under construction for the entire five year tenure of the former government. The contract which was granted to China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) by the last PPP government was for the construction of a new two-story building with eight bridges and modern equipment to house the airport. Instead of a new building and the eight bridges, the former government had decided without any wise and technical advice to renovate the airport with only four bridges at a humongous of more than the US$150 million budgeted for by the PPP government. It was a grotesque mistake by the last government.
Not only that, while in opposition, the last administration which was highly critical of the CJIA project and CHEC, eventfully reversed their stance and signed a new contract with the same company, CHEC, without any explanation to the public. After five (5) years of renovation, the airport is still not completed and this mediocre and stultify performance by CHEC has culminated in years of frustration by the public so much so that an angry President Irfaan Ali told officials of CHEC that enough is enough. He was pellucid that the people of Guyana and his government will not tolerate such mediocrity and accept the CJIA project as is. It is regrettable, shameful, offensive and deplorable.
However, the most egregious, crafty and reprehensive discovery came from a certain minister who informed Parliament of a hefty scam that resulted in the issuance of thousands of gun licenses by a senior member of the last government. In Parliament, the Minister in charge of the gun-license portfolio blasted the senior official for issuing firearm licenses without any engagement with the Firearm Licensing Board. And to make matters worse, it was alleged by the said Minister that the vast majority of gun licenses, over 60 percent were issued in 2020 while the last government was fighting to stay in power illegally by attempting to rig the elections. A thorough investigation is warranted to bring clarity to the aforementioned cases.
Dr. Asquith Rose
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