Jun 10, 2021 Letters
It is beyond embarrassing. I am reading that “In two years, GWI spent $103M on overseas travel and food.” The former boss, Dr. Van West-Charles explains that “… it was for studies and overtime meals.” On one level, this kind of wanton waste speaks of corruption, and to flippantly state that the purpose was for food and studies, is to display a high level of arrogance and naivete.
As expected, by August 2020, GWI was on the verge of collapse and one of the reasons for this was the “reckless spending” that characterised GWI during the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change’s (APNU+AFC’s) tenure.
When I go through the list of spending, it is most immoral in nature: in 2018, $26.8M was spent for overseas travel; in 2019, $26M for overseas travel; also in 2019, $50M in meals, and ‘enough is enough’. I think that the atmosphere at GWI, under Van West-Charles, was one of happy traveling and eating.
Let us remember that GWI’s was essentially cash-strapped to the point where it could not pay its electricity bill for a year and had owed Guyana Power and Light (GPL) some $7B for the period 2018 to 2020. If on hand we had wanton waste, on the other side, it was a classic example of not knowing how to prioritise. I really hope that there is a legal way of ‘calling to account those responsible for the financial mess that GWI was left in and is now so hard trying to disentangle itself from.
This GWI fiasco makes me recall what transpired with APNU+AFC supporter Larry London, who was paid $500,000 separately for a Director of Parks position even though the man was out of Guyana. He also was the one who spearheaded the controversial Durban Park project, and claimed that he was also the President and Secretary of a defunct Florida-registered company that was paid to print birth certificates.
Usually, it was local printers who produced Guyanese birth certificates. So, when the former government had moved away from this long standing practice, a bad smell was detected, and that led to a whole lot of unsavoury discoveries. As one article noted: “Some 100,000 birth certificates were reportedly ordered from the company between 2019 and 2020 and paid $23M.” That contract was signed by APNU+AFC supporter Larry London who was the controversial coordinator of the D’Urban Park project which was shrouded in secrecy and financial impropriety. I have my doubts if many of these improprieties will ever be fully dealt with. But for now, the GWI is being cleaned up, and when surplus employees are sent home, I hope the supporters of APNU+AFC will not cry foul.
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