Another display of witch-hunting

first_imgDear Editor,I will wholly agree with the Leader of the Opposition’s response to the unjustified charges of misconduct in public office. There is no basis for such a charge, since Dr Ashni Singh was carrying out the mandate of Cabinet.According to reports, the three plots of land were sold for $31.9 million, $18.5 million and $5.8 million per acre. This is not a case where the buyers colluded with the minister or the Government to commit a fraud. There is no evidence to suggest that.Chapter 73:05 Financial Management and Accountability Act, Section 85 clearly states the criminal liability of an official. It states that an official who falsifies any account, statement, receipt or other record issued or kept for the purposes of this Act, the Regulations, the Finance Circulars or any other instrument made under this Act, or conspires or colludes with any other person to defraud the State or make opportunity for any person to defraud the State, or knowingly permits any other person to do so, is guilty of an indictable offence.It is clear that SOCU came up empty-handed but the political dictates must ensure that the previous Government faces public embarrassment in yet another display of witch-hunting. It must be recalled that they had made public utterances about corruption and stealing of public funds, which they abysmally failed to substantiate even though millions were spent on CoIs, so now they must appease their supporters.But even among their die-hard supporters, there are many who have realized that all of this is a drama into futility. These are just baseless and spurious allegations! This is wasteful spending to enrich a few of their cronies.Let me refresh and enlighten the public what took place in 1991 when there was an insane haste by the PNC Government to privatize more than 40 state entities. That was the time when our per capita income was just around US$370.In February 1991, the PNC Government sold Demerara Woods Limited for 9.7 million pounds sterling to Lord Beaverbrook, and he obtained a 50-year lease of 1.1 million acres of rainforest. Two months later, he sold his interests for 61 million pounds sterling. In 1992 it was resold for 74 million pounds. It was estimated that the rainforest alone at that time was valued between US$160 million and $206 million.Another similar case is Guyana Timbers Limited. The book value of this entity was stated at US$130 million, but it was sold for a paltry US$23.2 million in 1991. Registration and other fees amounting to US$1.6 million were waived.The GRMMA complexes at Black Bush Polder and Corriverton were sold off in 1991 for US$3.8 million, but these complexes were valued at US$14.9. The Complexes at Ruimzeigt and Wakenaam and fertile lands were sold for US$2.5 million, the valuation was for US$8.5 million. At Anna Regina, the Complex valued at US$14.2 million was sold for US$4.2 million. In all these cases, local investors made higher bids, but the complexes were sold to foreigners. These are just a few.When the PPP/C took office in 1992, they could have done a lot to embarrass the PNC, and even prosecute many of the ministers; but it was a time for healing, reconciliation and nation building. Instead, the PPP/C put their shoulders to the plough and started a Herculean effort to build this nation from scratch, since our economy was comprehensively bankrupted and the masses were literally starving. Our debts were so debilitating that only 5% of our GDP could be used to run the country! The remaining 95% went towards repayment of debts and interests! It was a crime to have certain food items!Let us contrast with what this PNC-majority- controlled Government inherited. They inherited a booming economy that was on an upward trajectory. They inherited a full Treasury and a GDP per capita from US$370 to US$4,000. Yet this Government is bent on a collision course with the Opposition, although they preached about social cohesion and a good life for all Guyanese. Instead of continuing the nation building process, we find that this Government is now using the ‘red herring’ fallacy to divert attention away from the crumbling economy and the cancerous manifestation of corruption, mismanagement, cronyism, and unaccountability.This Government should provide answers to the Auditor General on how nearly $1 billion was spent on the D’Urban Park project. There are missing financial records, and the company has since been liquidated. The Government should provide answers to the lopsided oil contract, the many allegations of corrupt public procurement and cronyism, among many others. We need CoIs on these as well.I am sure that all these vexatious and vengeful efforts by the Government will come to nothing. I fully support the conclusions of Dr Jagdeo. The approval to sell came from Cabinet having received recommendations from the Privatization Unit and the Board.Yours sincerely,Haseef YusufRDC Councillor,Region 6last_img read more