Tony Vieira's Comments
22 October 2017

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The IDB undisbursed funds
(Aired 11 February 2005)

    Since 1977 the Inter American Development Bank has approved loans for Guyana amounting to 962 Million US dollars.

   The IDB is therefore our largest source of concessional borrowing. That is, borrowing at a reduced rate of interest.

   Anyone who has ever borrowed money from a bank will know that it is more complicated than getting married or even divorced, you have to do an application telling the bank what you want to do, you have to tell them how much money you need to do it and most importantly how you will pay it back. The bank will probably then send its own assessors to make sure that you do not intend to spend the money doing nonsense and if the amount is large enough they may even hire their own engineers to do the assessment of the work you intend to do and the feasibility of it.

    The same thing happens with the IDB they get their consultants to look at all projects to evaluate it, the people who administer the fund the secretarial and management staff of the IDB located in Guyana have to be paid from these loans, and some of these people earn 10-15 thousand US dollars a month, every month! Don't ask what it cost to house them.

   Dealing with the IDB therefore is not cheap, some people like Ramon Gaskin calculate that if you borrowed one million from the IDB their quote "Charges" can be as high as 60% of the money they are lend you. In other words you borrow and have to pay back 1 million but you are only actually getting 400 thousand in your hand.

   In addition when you borrow money from the IDB and they release the money there is what they call a commitment fee. In our case it is between ½ to ¾ percent per annum for as long as the money is held for the borrower. In this case the people of Guyana.

    As of 30th June 2004 this country had as approved loans from the IDB 383.3 million US dollars these are loans dating back to 1995, of this 383.3 Million US dollars, the undisbursed amount was 296.0 million US dollars in other words we only used 21.7 % of the total money released by the IDB since 1995.

   Ladies and gentlemen we paid for these loans to be evaluated, we paid the IDB to approve them, we paid the commitment fee, now to be fair since the time period was short and we deduct all amounts approved in 2004, the IDB still had released nearly 185 million from 1995 to 2003 that remained undisbursed, but we are paying ½ to ¾ percent a year to hold it there for us!

   Now these are important loans and I invite you to examine some of the major ones with me, in 1997 "The Bridges Rehabilitation" loan was approved by 2004 of the 41 million approved 16.8 million remained undisbursed. Now let us say that you are the D&I Chairman in this country and let us assume that you were taking your responsibilities seriously, you see the Roads division building the new East Bank Highway but in the process you notice [assuming that you are not in a coma or are preoccupied looking after your own business] that the three major relief kokers put there to relieve the high Lama levels along the East Bank Road at Craig, Friendship and Garden of Eden were being blocked by this road, since the laymen doing the road were not aware of the importance of these outlets which have the capacity to bring down the level of the Lama in emergencies such as now, wouldn't you raise hell? I would! but our D&I chairman did nothing, and I am reliably informed that these three bridges would have relieved the Lama's high level into the Demerara river, instead of releasing the water to the Mahaica river flooding the residents there, I have information that these three bridges would have cost an additional 700,000 US dollars, now remember that the account has 16.8 million in undisbursed funds for bridges which we are paying interest on since 1997. Would you employ a man like this D&I Chairman in your company, I wouldn't! And so I am calling for his resignation, and this is the third time I am doing so.

   At this point I want to pause and tell you, that, like you, I saw the PM losing his cool on the news last evening it was a most um-primeministely display I am sure that the ACB would sanction him if they existed, but faced with a similar situation, I would have done exactly the same thing! It came down to prioritising the situation, affect and flood 500 families along the banks of the Mahaica or leave 200 thousand people on the East Coast to fester in flood water for a period now approaching a month, frankly given this option I would have done the same as Mr. Hinds did. I said as much to Roy Babel of the evening news over a nine days ago, when he first showed me the footage I said that given the high level of the Lama and the real possibility that It's dam can collapse at any time I would blow it to the Mahaica. What I want Mr. Hinds to know is that his D&I chairman put him in that position by allowing the roads division to block up the outlets on the East Bank Highway which could have been used to relieve the high Lama level possibly saving the people at Mahaica and perhaps even diminishing the effects of this massive flood in the East Coast. My final commentary on this flood "Anatomy of a Disaster part 2" is still in the writing stage and will deal with all of this.

   So let's get back to the IDB story, under the heading "Low Income Settlements" of the 27 million US approved in 1999, 13.6 million is yet to be disbursed, I thought that this was money to regularise squatting and ease the expense of relocating these poor people, we only spent half the money allocated? How can that be possible?

   Then we have the Georgetown 11 Water Supply & Sewage Project for which 27 million US was approved in 1999, incredibly only 2.3 million has actually been spent 24.7 million US dollars remains undisbursed! Are you people living in Georgetown satisfied that your water supply is good at last.

   Now we come to one of the most important programmes on this list, one for which we are getting a lot of these concessionary loans in the first place, since we are a HIPC nation and we must relieve the poverty in this country, it is The Social Impact Amelioration Programme 111 [SIMAP 111] of the 20 million US dollars allocated to this important programme since 2001, 17 million remains undisbursed. The PPP only spent 3 million on SIMAP 111, so much for looking after our poor people.

   Also in 2001 Mahaica-Rosignol Road Project 33 million US was approved and only 12 was spent, 21 million US dollars remains undisbursed, but this road is complete, is it not? So did the Government overestimated the expenditure necessary to fix this road by more than 70 percent!

   It goes on ladies and gentlemen, in 2002 a 27.4 million US dollar Loan was approved for Un-served Areas Electrification Programme but only three hundred thousand was spent, 27.1 million US remains undisbursed.

   The Basic Education, Access and Management Loan was approved in 2002 for 30 million US, this government only spent 2.7 million of this loan, 27.3 million US remains undisbursed

   In  2002 the Basic Nutrition Loan for 5 million was approved only 0.3 million was spent 4.7 million remains undisbursed.

  In 1992 after 28 years of socialism and dictatorship leading to bad administration under Forbes Burnham this country's external debt stood at two billion US dollars, after receiving nearly 1.6 billion in debt relief over the past 10 years our external debt today is still 1 billion US but it is supposed to be 400 million, so the PPP have borrowed 600 million over the past 10 years, and frankly we have nothing to show for it, so be honest and tell me what has changed?