Number of government scandals is overwhelming

Dear Editor,

 

Since his ascension to the highest office, President Granger has been making some erroneous decisions that many believe are in direct conflict with his own, and the promises made in the 2015 APNU+AFC Manifesto.

Prior to the general and regional elections of 2015, many believed and some still do, that Retired Brigadier David Arthur Granger is an honourable, God-fearing man who will use the essential principles that were the foundation of his long career in the military, to “eradicate crime”, “stop corruption”, “restore democracy”, and to initiate policies and programmes that are “transparent” and “accountable” in the best interest of the Guyanese people. He has failed miserably.

The sheer number of scandals that have taken place since the APNU+AFC came to power has been overwhelming. We all thought in the beginning that their collective inexperience in running a government was responsible for this, but month after month the public is being bombarded like ‘shock and awe’ as one scandal is exposed after another, that exposes the incompetence and ineptitude of the Granger-led APNU+AFC government.

The fact that they have blamed the former PPP/C government for every mistake and corrupt act they make now has become laughable. These scandals are of their own making, and it is time that they take full responsibility for the mismanagement of the economy and the sufferings of our people.

Had it not been for the vigilance and diligence of the People’s Progressive Party in monitoring the use of public funds by the APNU+AFC government, Guyanese may never have known about the 50% pay-hike and additional benefits given to ministers in just a few weeks on the job. They may never have known that the government rented the Sussex Street pharmaceutical storage bond from someone with no experience in the field for over $12.5 million per month. Had it not been for the PPP, Guyanese may never have known that over $1 billion of their tax dollars were spent on a white-elephant known as the D’Urban Park Development Project, and that $605 million were given to Ansa McAl to procure drugs without following the procurement laws. And let us not forget that a junior minister was living in a house rented by this government for $500,000 per month, while a senior minister is living in one rented for $1.5 million of taxpayers money.

But all this pales in comparison to the loss of revenue and uncontested lawsuit settlements that cost taxpayers billions of dollars due to the incompetence of our Attorney General.

In December 2015, The APNU+AFC coalition government settled a claim by RUDISA, a Suriname-based beverage company for the entire amount of US$16 million, without any negotiations for a debt repayment schedule, despite the fact that the company owed and appears to still owe millions of dollars in taxes to Guyana. The government could have avoided this payout entirely if they had not stubbornly defeated two attempts by the then PPP/C administration during the 10th Parliament to amend the Customs Act to prevent the case from being decided by the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Then in April 2016, the APNU+AFC government engaged in a settlement with the Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) that will result in over $80 billion in lost revenue to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the nation. This deal remains so secretive that several attempts by the PPP/C Opposition in Parliament to get full disclosure were shot down by the government MPs.

Yet the Granger administration cannot find $10 billion a year to keep GuySuCo going and save 10,000 jobs in the process.

Then the Granger administration awarded BK International, the amount of $1.7 billion in settlement for the Haags Bosch project although this amount was never awarded by the courts. BK just threatened a lawsuit, and the Attorney General Chambers decided to settle out of court.

And of course, the Granger administration has recently been demonstrating nothing but disdain and contempt for our Constitution and the rule of law by undermining the judicial process. We’ve seen evidence of interference during the Carvil Duncan case, and the presidential sanctioning of the disrespectful actions of the Attorney General shown to Justice Holder in his courtroom.

We’ve also seen evidence of the misuse of SOCU to target, harass and prosecute PPP executives and former PPP ministers, instead of going after drug lords and those suspected of money-laundering.

Recently, we’ve seen instructions given to the Police Service Commission (PSC) by President Granger to stop the police promotion process in contravention of the Guyana Constitution. And we’re seeing an incompetent Minister of Public Security, whose portfolio seems to be diminishing rapidly, and whose authority may have been encroached upon without his knowledge and approval.

The same, however, cannot be said about the blundering Attorney General, whose influence seems to be growing rapidly with the PNC Leader and President of Guyana, despite suffering such humiliating and embarrassing losses in the courtroom to his predecessor, the former AG, Anil Nandlall.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon may have been just following orders from President Granger when he sent that letter to the PSC. But the President may have been ill-advised once again to do so by his legal advisor, the Attorney General. However, I fear that the determined Mr Williams will continue to make legal blunders because of his arrogance and the Granger administration will continue to trample on the Constitution because of its philosophy that they know what’s best for the Guyanese people.

In the meanwhile, there may be growing dissension and a power-grab between these two Cabinet Ministers as advisors to a dormant President, and it will be interesting to see how the gambit plays out.

Yours faithfully,

Harry Gill, MP

PPP/C

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