I continue to enjoy former Speaker Ralph Ramkarran’s erudite and incisive analyses on the state of the party within which he once enjoyed tremendous respect and pride of place. One recurring thread which I find myself in disagreement with however is the implication that the PPP can transition, in government, into a Party that will govern Guyana in the way that Mr. Ramkarran envisions. My own view is that the PPP as currently constituted is beyond salvation, beyond redemption.
True, the party is at present undergoing a moral meiosis, a schism. The problem is that many of those who would seek to restore whatever semblance of moral authority and accountability that the party had are held in thrall by the very cabal, the very cartel that he highlighted in his last article. Scions of the PPP who once rallied against the excesses of the previous regime are now guilty of complicity in precisely those excesses and worse, because their silence and inaction have been bought with lucrative positions for them and their descendants either within the state machinery or the private ‘enterprise’ that benefits greatly from corruption.
As Mr. Ramkarran himself has indicated in previous columns, the Party is currently fighting tooth and nail against systems that would lead to transparency and accountability in the business of the state.
The fact is that secrecy continues to plague government projects purportedly undertaken for the public good, from the Cheddi Jagan airport expansion to the ‘Marriott’ to Amaila Falls to the Caribbean Press. Even as crucial a national (and international) obligation as CFATF compliance has been met with obfuscation and duplicity by the PPP, as was summarized most recently in SN’s article, `Regional group meets opposition over anti-money laundering law’ (June, 30): “Hernandez’s account, according to the APNU press release, pointed out that the Guyana Government had been aware since 2010 that it was under scrutiny over its anti-money laundering provisions. He said that Guyana was evaluated in 2010 and put in an expedited follow up process. This required reporting every 6 months. In May 2013 Guyana was placed by CFATF on a “Public Statement” for failing to meet deadlines and being non-compliant with all 16 requirements. The government did not go public in 2010 about the need for amendments. However, once it became aware of the May 2013 development it began to pressure the opposition to acquiesce to the amendments and eventually blamed it when the CFATF’s end of May deadline was not met.”
When Mr. Ramkarran, a respected former party executive who does not make such pronouncements lightly, a week ago unequivocally outlined the scenario where the PPP is being controlled by corrupt groups, the Party’s only reaction has been the Attorney-General’s statement that the allegations were “damning” and warranted a PPP response that is yet to come. It is unrealistic therefore for the learned former Speaker to presume that the party is going to undertake in its capacity as a political entity (accountable internally only to a small section of its membership) the sort of reforms that it is legally and ethically bound to establish under its responsibility and obligations as a government, and yet refuses.
The PPP is only going to be afforded the capacity to reform when it is that there is a complete break of the party from the reins of executive government, simply because such a break would facilitate the two things necessary for reformation.
Firstly, it is going to remove the key facilitators of corruption from positions of interference; secondly, it is going to create or activate the systems necessary for the prosecution or censure of those who benefit from the current system.
As is, the criminality of the state under the PPP continues to pay tremendous dividends and hence there is no incentive for those within the party – primary beneficiaries of corruption, and their dependents – to seek any other way.
The core hurdle to the PPP’s internal reform, which would have to necessarily presage any attempt at its willingness to reform its stewardship of government, is that its internal structures and ethos would have to be so radically reengineered as to render it unrecognizable from its present avatar.