(Editor’s note: Stabroek News has agreed to carry occasional columns from the Guyana Gold Board on matters of public interest. )
There is what is called fake news. Then there are lies: deliberate, calculating, and primitive. These are not the subtlety of omissions; or dissembling and exaggerations suffocating truth. Rather, it is where ranking people premediate and determine that if an outright lie-no matter how outrageous-will serve the intended purpose, then a lie it must be. And having settled craftily on the outrageous component, then the more outrageous the better, the bigger the number the louder the bang.
How about that 50-billion-dollar lie making the rounds? It involves the operations of the Guyana Gold Board. Out of nowhere, some have seized upon the planks of dark imagination and came up with that staggering number. Digging deep into a slush fund of tricks and perversities, that intriguing and disturbing number was settled for and broadcast at different venues before different audiences. There is no limit to where this blatant 50-billion-dollar falsehood can reach, is intended to reach. It was repeated by the perpetrators during the 2019 budget deliberations in the National Assembly of all places: the perjurious practiced in high places by well-placed people. It is more than error of computation or failure of intelligence; this is representative of the adversarial relationship of some in this society to what is truthful, as well as a fatal incapability at things ethical. And, Guyanese are learning as the Germans did during the days of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels that a lie repeated often enough incites some following as to truthfulness. This is not a passing association with truth, but a distinctive and consistent abandonment of anything related to truth.
It has been articulated that a massive loss to the tune of that 50 billion is a hidden development at the Gold Board. An unaffordable dangerous reality that is carefully concealed from the public. The Chartered Accountants engaged have to be among the blindest, dumbest, and most incomparably incompetent to fail year after year to detect such an enormous failure. Whether in one fell swoop or several money-losing chunks at a time, over a period of time, a number such as this mysterious 50 billion (however constituted) would be terribly demanding to squirrel away. In view of the scale of the figures that is characteristic of Gold Board operations, such a number, even with dozens of contributory elements, would be difficult to not stand out in plain sight, or to stumble upon: too obvious, too inexplicable, too numerous without reason or relation. And yet this lie, this barbarism continues to make the rounds from the lips of the devious, those who just don’t care. The hard reality is that once uttered, the slanderous sound echoes and reechoes. It cannot be withdrawn, without some reputational damage remaining. And that is the insidiousness involved and planned.
Long forgotten is that in 2015 the Gold Board was weighed down with an insulting inheritance of a near 20-billion-dollar deficit. Substantial multi-billion-dollar deficits were racked up at both the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Guyana. Strangely, no one has had the courage or integrity to own up to those massive failures of stewardship; certainly not the same people who now wax loudly and cleverly about fictitious losses at the Gold Board.
At this point, it is appropriate for some irrefutable facts to set the records straight. First, at no time since 2015 has the Guyana Gold Board engaged in any single transaction (or series of related or unrelated transactions) with any counterparty amounting to a billion Guyana dollars. Second, it has neither participated in nor overseen nor approved of any transaction with anyone, or group, that rises to the level of a billion dollars. Third, the Gold Board, as part of routine responsibilities, has reviewed and released activities and submissions that pass stringent procedural scrutiny on behalf of agents in the gold sector. There is no financial exposure to the Gold Board; other than retention for general supervisory recordkeeping purposes; such developments do not enter into the accounting records of the Gold Board. They do not belong. Fourth, given the limited price spreads and volatility of gold since 2015, a 50-billion-dollar loss would be tantamount to mishandling almost all the gold processed by the Gold Board in any single year, and with prices totally evaporating. In other words, buying at prevailing market prices and selling at zero.
Thus, it is bewildering that his 50-billion-dollar fabrication continues to make the rounds. Acute amnesia also is the case when rich rightful mining claims were taken from the weak and given to friends for a nice stipend. And when significant obligations of friends to the state were repackaged, there was not a word from those now overflowing with untold mischief and premediated malice.
In spite of, and because of, this grotesque terrain that surrounds it, the Guyana Gold Board will neither flinch nor blink from its duty to the nation. There is unswerving determination to prioritize and advance the interests of both sector and country in a principled and transparent manner. It will not be deterred. In the end, vincit omnia veritas (truth conquers all).