I refer to a comment made by Mr Ramesh Dookhoo on Demerara Waves in which he stated that, “We didn’t ask for our debts to be written off. The bad guys made the bank (GAIBANK) go bankrupt.”
I resigned as General Manager of GAIBANK in January 1994. GAIBANK was a profitable bank and this outcome is supported by the 1993 audited financial report that was prepared by Dr S A Goolsarran, the Auditor General of Guyana at that time.
Mr Dookhoo should be specific about the time when the ‘bad guys’ got their loans written off and who authorized it, for when borrowers run to politicians and ask for loans to be written off and politicians agree to do so without seeking professional advice to deny such requests, we could have the situation as defined by Mr Dookhoo. One of the damaging effects of political interference in financial markets is the unfortunate transfer of publicly owned assets to private ownership without taxpayers being compensated. This situation must be avoided at all costs. A second outcome is that successful start-up projects are starved of additional funds when the ‘bad guys’ cause politicians to close the bank to hide their wealth transfer.
Notwithstanding these concerns, I would nevertheless like to congratulate Mr Dookhoo for speaking on the pivotal role GAIBANK played in developing the manufacturing sector in Guyana. GAIBANK’s work was transformational, given the position from where we started in Guyana and the fact that commercial banks would not have and will never take on the risks as they have other important priorities. Now, could you imagine, Editor, if Mr Dookhoo and his colleagues had spoken on these matters two decades ago? This is the unfortunate outcome of our underdeveloped policy environment, but as the old people say, better late than never. I commend Mr Dookhoo on setting the record straight.
C Kenrick Hunte