Jan 05, 2021 Letters
Ron Paul running for US President popularized the phrase: “Don’t Steal; The Government Hates Competition.”
Rothschild and Block wrote an article with that same title. Another variant of that theme is: “Don’t steal, don’t lie, and don’t cheat, the Government hates competition.”
Guyana’s perpetual curse since independence is that corruption runs rampant in Government regardless of which party is in power. Corruption in giving away oil blocks or flipping lands on their way out, to awarding oneself a million-dollar bracelet, when the working poor makes $44,000+ monthly as a minimum wage, is simply disgustingly sinful.
People in government service are thieving left and right. The more projects done, the more thieving is done. It seems as if the goal of being in government is to steal as much national assets that you can get your sticky hands on, before your term is up. While one party may have stolen more than the other while in Government, it’s not a case of one is “sinner” and the other is “saint.”
They both tend to take us from democracy towards kleptocracy. That’s why you have to watch them like a hawk and make them accountable. For those of us who voted for the PPP/C, this is our scared duty.
In this regard, the Kaieteur News and Stabroek News are to be commended for their watchdog roles in the society in their investigative reporting and exposes.
The KN’s “Fleecing of Guyana Series” is most welcome. What I don’t understand is that the Auditor General’s report comes out, identifying fraud and wrongdoings, but you do not hear of anybody being charged and penalized, or anybody going to jail, or nobody being surcharged or paying back funds misappropriated. Why?
People of Guyana, is the AG’s office simply to report crime and nothing happens? How do we stop this? Recently, we read about the Ministry of Health destroying nearly a billion dollars’ worth of medicines because they were expired. My question is how many people were fired for such malfeasance? Who were punished for this? How did this happen? Who were the supervisors? Can a poor country, with a long list of needs afford to operate like this? How is it they always tell you there is no medicine and they give you a prescription to go and buy it yourself, and billions are lost due to malfeasance in the Government?
How will this stop going forward? What are the system changes to prevent these scams?
Let’s look at some distressing recent headlines from the AG’s reports for 2019:
•“DHB Manager gifted himself $897,000 bracelet from public funds.” (The Board should be fired instantly if they approved this. This is over 16 months of salary for a minimum wage worker).
•“Harbour Bridge pays TT Company $9M one year before company registered.”
•“Asphalt sold at Garden of Eden Plant goes 10 miles to be weighed, despite scale right next door.” (“It is alleged that the scam is facilitated where the Ministry of Public Works would order a certain amount from the plant to be billed to the Ministry. However, they would have collected less resulting in the difference being sold at a discount to contractors,” the report stated in its conclusion).
•“GDF had expended $91.629M on the maintenance of 30 vehicles, which represented an average maintenance cost of $3.054M per vehicle.”
•“Almost 2 years later: $488M asphalt plant built by APNU/AFC, a white elephant.”
•”Guyana still waiting on CCTV system purchased by APNU/AFC in 2015.”
•“Education Ministry paid $28M for foundation design, and then abandoned it.”
•“Audit launched after $250M SLED budget cannot be accounted for.”
•“Fmr. APNU/AFC Govt. cannot account for $200M in furniture, equipment.”
•“Unauthorized vehicle collected $181M in army fuel.”
The above are only a tiny sample of scams in the Government arena. That is why your roads and streets cannot be paved, and hospitals are short of basic supplies. Guyana is rich but they are thieving out the money, and wasting it on useless things such as the Ethnic Relations Commission gobbling up $220 million a year.
I agree with President Ali when he said: “We must not remain a rich country of poor people,” noting that the bounty of Guyana must be shared across the population. Guyana has always been rich but it’s the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer. People of Guyana, wake up!
KN, SN and others have also been warning us that we are oil rich but still poor. We must not allow only those in Government and those close to the Government to be rich, and we remain poor.
Dr. Jerry Jailall
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