Jan 15, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – The only Guyanese who could somehow take a stand for the Natural Resource Fund Bill, today the law of the land (NRF Law), are those diehard PPP/C Government supporters, who refuse to think of the implications of what was passed, and for whom the government can do no wrong. Thankfully, there are other Guyanese around. People of conscience, with a willingness to exercise their minds in the examination of the pros and cons of this NRF Law, and raise their voices in protest at what can be nothing but detrimental to the nation’s prospects.
Article 13 is such a group, and it is clear about where it stands (“Door opens for misuse of oil money -Article 13 says, following rushed passage of controversial NRF Bill” -KN January 10). We think that the Article 13 group was being kind, as the door not only opens, but blows apart, given what the PPP/C Government did embark upon, and which is now a standing legislation. The NRF Bill was rushed, whatever little listening there was by government, it was of still less substance, and of going through the motions, with barely any regard for what anyone was saying.
The group pointed to the Santiago Principles, and the PPP/C Government’s continued distancing from anything to do with transparency. It also pointed to the devastating situation in Kazakhstan, which came about (in part) because of the Kazakhstan’s government hard headedness and lack of evenhandedness in how it dealt with that country’s wealth and the cries of its citizens. We had cause to editorialise on the developments in Kazakhstan and were compelled to draw parallels to what is taking place in Guyana. Our focus was primarily on the implications of where those parallels could degrade to here, especially with a mind to an aspect not present in the deadly circumstances that visited Kazakhstan, which is our bitter race issue.
Article 13 was concerned, and we at this paper are, that the Government saw it fit to ignore, if not insultingly dismiss, the widespread outcries against an NRF Bill that was seen as objectionable at best, and execrable at worst. The bottom line was that, in spite of loud media protestations and sweeping societal disagreements from numerous corners, the PPP/C Government still insisted on having things its way, and rushed ahead with its one-seat majority to get what can only be described as the dirty deed done.
It is a dirty deed. The passage of this NRF Bill, now the law, makes so much possible in terms of thievery and banditry on a scale not seen before in this country. As all Guyanese know, we have had more than our heavy share over the years, under one government after another, of costly thieveries and banditries. This NRF Bill gives carte blanche to leaders in the PPP/C Government to manipulate the law, the people selected, the structure enabled, and the associated circumstances to suit any kind of crooked vision to plunder this country’s oil fund, and still say that they broke no law with a straight face. What should be and would be a high crime in most democratic countries amounts to nothing in this country because there is no provision in this rushed law for misuse or abuse of the fund.
This is only one of the sticking points in the new NRF legislation. Incredibly, there was the leadership cunningness to insert provisions to deal harshly with whistleblowers, or others who give out misleading information, but nothing for those who actually abuse the fund. It took some imagination and craftiness to come up with what protects likely thieves, and those salivating to get at this oil fund that most likely is already causing them sleepless nights, so eager are they to get their dirty hands on its enriching contents.
What we note at this juncture, is that the PPP/C pulled out all the stops, and engaged many, during the stormy elections season, and that it was glad to capitalise on every voice and presence. Yet now that it is the government of the day, it doesn’t have the time of day for a word that serious citizens have to say about big things in this country, like the NRF Bill. Sincere consultation has been thrown out of the window, along with those who dare to stand in the way of a rampaging PPP/C Government, now so full of itself that it refuses to listen or budge.
As an economist articulated, “When you put politicians in charge of spending money and big, big money like that kind, you are going to have a lot of problems.” We couldn’t have said it better. This is where all the signs point; to where the passage of this NRF Bill, now the law, is going to lead, and with unwanted consequences for this society. When politicians are near big money, there is big trouble. It’s a Guyanese standard.
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