May 23, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – Amid mounting crises here and abroad, Guyanese leaders seem more concerned about insulting each other with their focus on minor issues, Businessman and Kaieteur News Publisher, Glenn Lall has said. He said critical issues such as strengthening the governance architecture of the oil and gas industry and pursuing greater social cohesion were not being advanced.
“Every programme I have done I have been exposing to you very simply what both the PPP and the Coalition governments have done and still continuing to do to this land and its people,” Lall said on his radio programme: The Glenn Lall Show’ aired last Friday evening on Kaieteur Radio.
It is not the first time Mr. Lall has called out Guyanese leaders for what he deemed as their lack of vision for this country. “All they have been doing is focusing on frivolous things, cussing out each other, pulling down each other, doing their very best to cause racial division among us,” Lall told his audience tuned in both on radio and social media. “They are not focusing on ways that they can work together in unity to bring about major changes to the way our wealth is managed to uplift the nation and so make the lives of the people of this country way, way better than it is now,” the businessman stated.
Back in April also on his radio show Mr. Lall had urged the current crop of leaders to develop a bold and progressive vision for this country. At the time he bemoaned the lack of a commonsense approach to this nation’s development, saying: “Every day these guys open their mouths, I feel like cry and scream for this country with the kind of bicycle and jackass cart vision they have for this country and its people. Many days when I glance at the newspapers or listen to them as they speak on TV or the radio, I shudder to think what will become of future generations.” The newspaper publisher and businessman said, many days he would ask himself whether President Irfaan Ali and Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton were living in this 20th century in a country with these massive oil finds.
Meanwhile, Lall drew reference to the recent formal talks between Norton and President Ali. “For the first time the newly elected Opposition Leader meeting with the newly elected President, what did they talk about? Appointing people to their substantive constitutional offices, this episode has been an ongoing mantra with both political parties for decades and they get nowhere, they have the people in an acting position – many have died acting and they will continue to die acting because they will not agree on anything and anybody.” Mr. Lall then asked: “did they talk about your wealth and your resources? That is not a matter of urgency or importance to both of them. Taking loans, paying fat, fat interest rates, indebting this country year after year, is an emergency for one government after another…”
No jail time for misuse of oil funds
Lall also spoke about government recent move to Parliament to table a bill to regulate the cultivation of industrial hemp as well as stricter penalties for reckless road users,” but laws for the oil industry to regulate and jail people for thieving the money not important.”
This newspaper had reported previously that despite heavy criticism, the PPP/C Government has remained steadfast in its belief that there is no need for specific penalties for the misuse of oil revenues. According to the administration, the existing laws such as the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA) are more than enough to address any malfeasance in public office. As a result, it hurriedly passed on December 29, 2021, the Natural Resource Fund legislation which was assented to hours later by President, Irfaan Ali.
It is significant to note however that while the Ali administration insists that there is no need to outline explicit penalties for abuse or misuse of funds in the legislation, its Western counterpart, Ghana, which it claimed to have consulted on the NRF law, has shown a completely different approach toward the protection of the nation’s oil revenues.
According to Ghana’s legislation governing its Petroleum Fund, “A person who (a) misappropriates the Petroleum Funds; (b) defrauds, attempts to defraud or conspires with another person to defraud the Republic in relation to the Petroleum Funds; (c) uses, attempts to use or conspires with another person to use information on the Petroleum Funds or documents relating to the Petroleum Funds for personal benefit or advantage or for the personal advantage or benefit of another person; commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than five hundred thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years or to both.”
It goes on to state that, “(2) A person who abets in the commission of an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than two hundred and fifty thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than seven years or to both.”
When Guyana had pursued the creation of its first NRF legislation back in 2018, it was warned to have clear penalties or the fund could run the risk of failing to serve current and future generations. This advice was provided by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), which also cited numerous examples from around the world of how often Natural Resource Funds become easily mismanaged, and the perpetrators, mostly politicians, go unpunished.
For example, the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund, established in 2009, has proven to be a major source of alleged corruption and mismanagement. Designed to attract investment into Malaysia by forming joint ventures with foreign firms, 1MDB ended up being in over US$11 billion of debt by 2014. Among its more suspect transactions are a US$1 billion investment in a Saudi oil company in 2009 which has gone missing; funds that were diverted in 2012 from an Abu Dhabi state fund to a firm in the British Virgin Islands (a secrecy jurisdiction); and US$4 billion that has been misappropriated from Malaysian state firms. Malaysia, the US, Switzerland, Singapore and the UK are still trying to unravel the web of corruption and money laundering schemes that are related to the fund that robbed current and future generations of their wealth.
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