The Government of Guyana over the past seven years has discriminated against sections of the private media by withholding taxpayer-funded state advertising from them. This behaviour is discriminatory, constitutes an attack on press freedom and violates the Declaration of Chapultepec on press freedom to which Guyana is a signatory.
Discrimination in the placement of advertisements has also extended to projects in Guyana funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) particularly those that come under the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF). Advertisements for the Sixth Cycle of the BNTF are only placed in two newspapers: the state-owned newspaper and a government-friendly newspaper. Other private media are being discriminated against. With the imminent start of the Seventh Cycle of the BNTF, the discrimination will continue as the local office handling the BNTF project has not responded to queries by Stabroek News on the placement of advertisements.
It is ironic that the opening of the Forty-Fourth Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of CDB in Georgetown was preceded by a procurement seminar for CDB-funded projects when the Government of Guyana is violating best practice in the procurement of advertising financed by the CDB from funding which has been secured on behalf of all of the people of Guyana. Advertisements should be placed in a manner that allow them to be read by all sectors of society while at the same time providing value for money.
When the Seventh Cycle of the BNTF was launched in Georgetown on June 27, 2013 it was stated that these projects would be community-informed and proposals would be accepted from citizens in the areas where the projects are to be carried out. This cannot be successfully done if the Government of Guyana continues to discriminate in its placement of advertising.