Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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20 Million Hypocrisy
(Aired 27 June 2006)

  In the 7 years from 2000 to 2006 whilst our budget increased from $63 billion to $103 billion i.e. a $63.5% increase, the money allocated to our supreme court had only risen to $619 million in 2006 from $479 million in 2000 i.e. a 29% increase. So if the allocation to the supreme court was only increased by 29% and it should have been increased by 63.5% then someone reduced the increases to the supreme courts by 117%, that person was President Bharat Jagdeo who is our de facto minister of finance. Now for us to keep up with the increases of 63% which the national budget risen by since 2000, the 2006 allocation to the Supreme Court should, if it had risen proportionally, have been nearly 800 million and not the 600 million which was given.

   Like you I saw an apparently outraged Jagdeo promising to give the supreme court an additional 20 million to rectify all of its problems, since some magistrate gave bail to a wanted criminal who was likely to flee the jurisdiction, but it is this same President in an effort to control the rule of law itself who reduced the allocation to the courts by 200 million this year alone, rushing in now with a 20 million dollar plaster now for a 200 million dollar sore, he himself is responsible for, does not impress me at all! Nearly half of his judges are acting, an abomination in itself, and most of the other half are working for little or nothing in constant fear of interference in their careers from the executive if they rule against the state, there are no court recording staff, so our judges have to write down every word of the proceedings in long hand, stalling the process of justice to a crawl, there is no proper court registry, and the noise! Ladies and gentlemen the noise!! That noise interference alone makes timely justice impossible. 

 Every day numerous breaches to the rule of law are being made by the executive in this country, for example hotels are springing up all over the place, these hotels have been promised casino gambling licenses and this is no longer an allegation someone whose integrity I trust completely has seen one of these agreements.

  The EPA act number 11 of 1996 tells us in subsections 10 and 11 of the fourth schedule that the construction of any Hotel, Guest House or Inn with more than 10 rooms will require an environmental impact assessment study. There is no obscurity about it; the law says that they will do it, so no one can waive it. but the legal system itself in this country, under pressure from Jagdeo to get his hotels to bail him out of the embarrassing situation he finds himself in with the world cup cricket, are being forcing to break the law.

    These actions also contravene article 71 of the constitution since article 71 tells us that decisions which will affect people's lives in this socialist democracy must be made with the involvement of as many of them as possible, if people are building these white elephants for the world cup cricket, and they are being built without any Environmental Impact Assessment Studies or any consultations with the public who live near to them, then it is being done against the law. And when people approach the courts the judges are allowing these breaches of the EPA act to pass. I want to know why we have an EPA act in this country in the first place if our courts will not enforce it, this could not be what President Chedie Jagan had in mind when he made this act after the OMAI spill, it was made to protect the public but it is not doing so, because of corruption in the executive branch of government which is controlling the judicial system.

  Ladies and gentlemen, Casino Gambling is not like lotto or bingo, I am no prude you all know that, but casino gambling is tailor made for laundering dirty money since if some man goes into a casino and loses $500,000, it leaves no paper trail, in no other business is that so, when you buy $500,000 in chips you do not get a receipt for it, they don't even ask your name so if 100 people go into these gambling houses with $500,000 each night that is 50 million a night or nearly 19 billion a year, now increased capacity to launder drug money only creates the market for more drug money to be laundered, so if the capacity to launder money is enhanced, then there will be bigger drug trade in Guyana, a bigger drug trade means more and bigger drug barons; more and bigger drug barons means more and bigger gangs to protect the drug barons, more and bigger competing gangs means more crime in the society when they fight among themselves.    

   So before anyone decides that they will make this a casino gambling nation there will have to be a national dialog and consultations with the churches, the women's and other interested civil groups and so on, Jagdeo cannot just decide that we will have casino gambling here, regardless of the consequences, without our consent. So I consider that this time he has stepped way out of line, so far out of line in fact that if this were any sort of self respecting country we would rise up and demand his resignation, immediately!

    Ladies and gentlemen you have no idea what can happen here in Guyana if Casino Gambling becomes a reality, we have no particular rule of law, our legal system sucks, we have no particular police force to handle the crime that can emerge from unregulated casino gambling and the crime it spawns, the situation is described this way by Jeffrey Robinson, a world authority on money laundering, and I quote him "As the UK prepares for a new generation of mega-casinos, Britain must take action to prevent suffering the same fate as the US, where, casinos are still viewed by organised crime groups as giant Laundromats. Casinos are targeted by organised crime groups because they process large amounts of cash on a daily basis. Nevada [Las Vegas and Reno] has one of the largest FBI offices in the United States because of crime linked to gambling" Robinson concludes.

   When the drug lords themselves are part owners of these casinos as is the situation in Guyana then the situation becomes exponentially worse! Who are we going to put to see that the casinos operate within the law Lumumba? And these casinos will be scattered all over the place, on the East and West Bank and Coast of Demerara, in all parts of the city of Georgetown even in residential areas and in Berbice. now assuming we decided as a nation after heavy and meaningful consultations with the citizens of this country to allow Casino Gambling here, then it would be advisable to cordon off some area in say Lilliandal and make that an area where people will build these casinos/hotels, if this is done then we would be able to monitor them properly, not this scattered all over the place situation making meaningful monitoring impossible and putting what will be focuses of crime literally in people's backyards. Why is it that we can never get anything right in this country? Why is it necessary that we as a nation have a government which decided without consulting us that they too incompetent to manage our affairs doing legitimate enterprises and so they have to resort to this type stupidity which can make a bad crime situation, worse.

   Ladies and gentlemen I have decided to take my Neighborhood council to court for allowing one of these hotels/casinos to be built in my neighborhood at Versailles without consultation with residents or an Environmental Impact Assessment study and I am calling any or all of on you who will be affected in your areas to join me in a class action suit to share the cost to stop the construction of these breaches to our constitutional and other rights under the law. One group has already called me to inform me that one judge has already rendered what is to them a perverse judgment on this matter, so now I would like to carry that case to the Appeal Court and to the CCJ.