Aug 13, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – On almost every occasion that Guyanese open the newspapers, watch television, listen to the radio, or follow developments on official Facebook pages, they are bombarded by announcements of building in many regions, and involving numerous State Agencies. These are for public works projects that run into the tens or hundreds of millions and, sometimes, even into the billions. On the surface, these are all positive things.
On paper, these projects represent improvements that have been missing from numerous communities for a long time. They are good things, on paper, and must be so recognized, for all the benefits that they can mean for the people in urban and rural areas, be they schools, health clinics, fires stations, and such. But there is another side of these infrastructure projects, a very long, dark, and ugly side which must be presented and re-presented. Because it cannot be repeated and emphasized enough, given the culture and practices that now have a stranglehold on this country.
What we now have with deep roots across the length and breadth of Guyana is a culture of roguery and skullduggery. This is as coming from the clever minds of Guyanese political leaders, ministers in government, and those senior public servants (mostly) who are the hands that implement what comes down to them from budgets, policies, and programs. We now live with a horrible and costly reality that has infected almost everyone that is near to its presence. To be clear and straight, no government has been vaccinated against the corruption virus that sweeps across this land at endemic proportions. There may be a politician or two, and a few public servants, who have not been bitten by the corruption and skullduggery bugs, but to locate them is an ordeal, such a rarity they are.
Whenever the news surface of the building of a school, or a small clinic, or some other necessary structure, men and women in this country lick their lips and rub their hands in anticipation, for it is party time. It is one big, endless season of partying with the people’s monies that are earmarked for these expensive projects. The ring is big, and the net is wide, and inside of both can be found people making a bid, public servants reviewing a tender, state engineers providing an estimate, contractors doing the work on the ground, and those overseeing the integrity of the project. It goes without saying, that the politicians are a big part of these crooked exercises since they determine who is to get, or who is not to get, a contract to do a public works project. Everyone is part of the great swindling game going on in Guyana, and all of them have good ideas on how the criminal game works, because they have been so long in this dirty way of doing the business of the people.
Everybody knows how to rig the numbers, from estimates to cost and quantity of materials needed and supplied, all heavily padded. It is a huge and well-established system of give and take and mutual backscratching, with rich reciprocal rewards all around. Some of the contractors are aware that they are untouchable due to the donations they have made, and their loyalty to leaders over the years. So, they know that when they shortchange and under deliver on project specifications that they will get more contracts, and even supplementary provisions to do over jobs, or to get things right this time. Nobody is called to account, none penalized, with the taxpayers made fun of, while the treasury is pillaged and plundered.
Recently, the COVID-19 virus, severe floods, and some struggling sectors all required quick relief from the State. The relief money was all cash, which opened the door for more exploiting and capitalizing by the crooks involved in these payouts. People who did not qualify received money, and the allegations were quick to come that phantoms names and inflated losses benefited from aid cash.
The bottom line is that all those around the millions and billions are having a real good time picking the people’s pockets. Projects are the place for Guyana’s many financial perverts to practice their trade, the now pervasive national culture.
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