Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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It had to happen
(Aired 25 November 2004)

      Recently the World Bank issued a release to the media questioning this country's financial policies; having looked at our performance they have now decided that feasibilities studies will have to be done on all projects over 10 million US dollars, since their perception is that this irresponsible Government is spending far more than it can afford and that its spending is not in keeping with projects that can be established as financially feasible.

      I have never claimed to be in any popularity contest; particularly, I have not been in any popularity contest which I am losing, so I would not know how Mr. Jagdeo is feeling having squandered his goodwill with the people of this country through his very poor management of the economy.

    Since Mr. Asgar Ali left in 1994 there is no question as to who has been in charge of our financial affairs in this country and since 1995 our financial situation has been spiraling downward, completely out of control.

   But I question the rationalization of investing 25 million US dollars on a cricket stadium which the World Bank deems to be a project riddled with doubt as to its economic viability, when at the same time this government is capping public sector wage increases at no more than the level of inflation.  

    In other words this government is telling the World Bank that they are gung ho to build a cricket stadium, which no one can tell us how we will repay the money we are borrowing to build it but at the same time they are capping their public sector workers' salaries at no more than the level of inflation i.e. leave them at the same level of poverty that they are at now, but waste money on a cricket stadium and rehabilitate certain sugar estates at a time when we should be tooling up for alternatives to sugar.

    HIPC money which this country is receiving is supposed to be money which will help us with our huge loan repayment problems, and this relief is given so that money is available to help our people earn a better wage and to achieve a better living standard, that is what I have been telling you this money is for all along, that is how we will follow the objectives of the Poverty Eradication Program and the National Development Strategy; but this can't be true when we can see clearly that Mr. Jagdeo is taking the money and squandering it on useless projects with dubious returns, not to mention the corruption that accompanies all of this construction, whilst at the same time capping the earnings of the poor public servants. What kind of poverty alleviation is this? I can't see it, can you?

   I have to tell you that from the very beginning I was against the new Skeldon expansion, it makes no sense, Cuba which produces sugar at 9 US cents a pound has closed 73 of its 150 odd sugar mills, India is busy converting large sugar factories to produce alcohol to power their cars and are seeking to change the law so that  all vehicles will have to buy fuel mixed with 5% alcohol, Guyana however with an average cost of production of 16 US cents a pound is wasting money retooling the industry to carry us all further down the drain. But what do I know? When I became a Sugar Estate manager Jagdeo was 10 years old.

      Mr. Jagdeo is on record as telling this nation that he does not want to take money out of the consolidated fund to spend it on the Bauxite Industry but at the same time this same Jagdeo has no problem wasting this nation's resources rebuilding the doomed sugar factories and a cricket stadium, why is this ladies and gentlemen? is it because his supporters do not work in the bauxite industry?

    In the mean time the requests by the International Financial Institutions that contracts to build local infrastructure i.e. roads, bridges, schools, stadiums etc., must be awarded in a manner which is transparent and fair, is not happening.

  The procurement Commission has not been put in place; now remember that this Procurement Commission which is required to be in place by the constitution itself and would have comprised persons nominated by both the PPP and the PNC in addition to the other opposition parties, having agreed to it over 4 years ago the PPP are going to astronomical heights not to put it in place, since it can and will curb corruption in the awarding of contracts and put a stop to PPP runnings, this modification to the constitution was done at a time when this government was in a situation where the International Financial Institutions were pressuring them to have a Commission which will ensure that the national pie is shared equally between all the people and not just those who support this government, the PPP never implemented the Procurement Commission, instead, they went to Parliament and sought to put in place a Procurement Administration which was not bipartisan since every member would be selected by Jagdeo himself, and has no representatives from any of the opposition parties so everything would be done behind closed PPP doors, incredibly nearly 3 years after the PPP railroaded this Procurement Administration Bill through the parliament, they have never implemented it.

   What is operating even now is the old act which has been in existence for 20 odd years but even this act is being breached by the Executive in the most flagrant and outrageous manner.

   In the procedures and guidelines of this old act laid out in a document dated 18th June 1991 to all Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Departments and Regional Executive Officers we learn at section 3 (1) that any contract awarded in any region which will cost in excess of G$300,000 in supplies or G$750,000 in works must be awarded by the Central Tender Board, and that the Central Tender Board will comprise, the Secretary to the Treasury, the Chief Works Officer, the Head of the Central Projects Unit [State Planning Secretariat] the Regional Executive Officer of the Region in which the works are to be carried out, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Regional Development and a representative nominated by the Vice President Economic Planning and Finance.

   Now this is supposed to be the board that will meet and OK any project, wherever it might be, in this country. You will note that the PNC, whose bill this was, did not allow one representative from the opposition on the Central Tender Board. But then the constitution itself at that time did not demand a Procurement Commission. The PPP must stop lying now, they must put this Procurement Commission in place, or I will get a few contractors to pool their resources and take the Government to court for breaking the constitution.

   I have however discovered that the Regional Executive Officers are no longer invited to sit at these Central Tender Board Meetings in breach of the law, I have also discovered that Mr. Alan Monroe Chairman of Region 4 and the Regional Council at Lethem controlled By GAP have been given as their Regional Executive Officers the most rabid PPP REO's that the government can find, so that the Regional Democratic Councils of these two regions which are controlled by non PPP forces are kept completely in the dark about works that will be carried out in their region; furthermore the Regional Council of Region 4 has lodged numerous complaints of the REO not carrying out the instructions of his council, these complaints have been met with complete indifference by the executive, no surprise there the executive in this country is part of the problem not the solution to it.

   All of this is wrong, unconstitutional and reprehensible and highlights the corruption which is going on daily in this country.

   I have asked this question before are the US, the British, the European Union and the Canadian Diplomatic staff paying attention? If they are, why is nothing being done? They keep giving us poverty reduction money which is not going to the poor and they are not insisting on impartial bodies that will ensure that it will; now ladies and gentlemen this cannot continue without an explosion, is that what they want?