Much has been made, and rightly so, about the firing of five Georgetown City Council officials, (‘Five city officers sacked after Audit Office probe,‘ SN, January 3). Some have hailed it as the first step in the right direction in dealing with the environmental problem Georgetown faces, while others, like me, also hail it in principle, but couldn’t help asking why there is always an appearance of African Guyanese being targeted for punitive actions.
There were the arrest and imprisonment of Mr Mark Benschop (five years), Reserve Army Officer Mr Leonard Wharton and husband-and-wife duo, Major Bruce and Mrs Carol Ann Munroe (15 months each) on treason charges, with each being freed without conviction. (In fact, KN reported that Mr Munroe was also requested to resume his duties in the country’s defence force and to continue in the position he held prior to the charge being brought against him.) Former army officer, Mr Oliver Hinckson also served four months on sedition charges before being freed without conviction.
No one who endured the PNC’s version of corruption for 24 years ever expected to endure the PPP’s version of corruption for 20 years, and anyone who really cares about good governance would never excuse any form of corruption perpetrated by any race under any party in power. Yet there are some PPP supporters who are brazen enough to openly defend or excuse the PPP’s version of corruption by dredging up the PNC’s past version, clearly ignoring the application of the law in resolving this festering problem.
In the case of the firing of the five city council officers, if the evidence supports the charges of corruption, then the officers have to live with the consequences. Even if they were under the impression that many officials and associates of the PPP and its regime went from rags-to-riches lifestyles without being caught and punished, compliments of pervasive corruption in the central government, these city council officials had to know they did not belong to that special group of Teflon thieves.
But long before there was even a deserving probe of the Georgetown City Council, the central government itself was overdue for a massive forensic probe, if the annual Auditor-General’s reports were to be believed. Hundreds of millions of dollars continue to remain unaccounted for. Millions of dollars exist in accounts with no names. Documents do not exist showing what items were purchased or, if they were purchased, how they were disposed of. And I am talking here about central government, not the Georgetown City Council.
I am not going to go into the details of the latest AG’s report for 2010, and would actually recommend anyone interested in the dizzying facts and figures, to peruse attorney and accountant, Mr Christopher Ram’s website (chrisram.net) for constructive analyses. However, I wish to point out for readers that millions of dollars remain unaccounted for despite boasts of the return of accountability reports by the Auditor-General under the PPP, pointing a damning finger at the Minister of Finance for not implementing many of the AG’s recommendations over the years.
The Finance Minister, who also has policy oversight for the insurance industry, had to know that Clico (Guy) was violating local insurance laws forbidding it to invest more than 15% of its funds overseas, because then the Insurance Commissioner repeatedly admonished Clico (Guy)’s CEO on this matter to no avail. Clico ended up losing (53% of its funds) US$34M to bad real estate investments in Florida, but the Minister kept his job.
The Finance Minister, who is also Chairman of NICIL, allowed the company to transact billions of dollars in state business, but failed to ensure that NICIL’s CEO had the company’s accounts audited and presented in Parliament in accordance with the law for eight years. Yet the Minister still has his job.
If Guyana were the Cayman Islands, a host of officials, as well as business contractors, would be arrested on suspicion of corruption and actual corruption. Some would face huge fines and stiff prison sentences or even have their bank accounts and assets seized.
It surely boggles the mind trying to make sense of the PPP regime’s concept of appearing to battle corruption at the Georgetown City Council while refusing to battle corruption in central government.
We desperately need a regime change in Guyana to save the nation from a lawless regime.