Corruption has Donald Ramotar cornered – commentary

Corruption has Donald Ramotar cornered

JUNE 19, 2012 | BY  | EDITORIAL

Over time the people of this country have been hearing about their corrupt government. For example, there was talk that Forbes Burnham had stolen so much money that he was the fifth richest person in the world. The accusers quoted Forbes Magazine. Those were the days when information contained in foreign magazines was not readily available.

It turned out that there was never such a publication. Today, more than 25 years after Burnham’s death there is no evidence that he was ever a wealthy man. President Cheddi Jagan came to power with a pledge to run a lean and clean government. And he was true to his word. He caused his government to import pharmaceuticals when a local supplier turned out to be fleecing his government. Suffice it to say that that local supplier is once more the major supplier of pharmaceuticals to the government.     

As news of unprecedented corruption began to circulate the then President Bharrat Jagdeo simply asked people to provide proof. Some did and got nowhere. Others were threatened by persons unknown to keep their mouths shut and some lost government contracts. In the end people chose to report to the media.

That there is rampant corruption is now an open secret, so open that Nadira Jagan, a daughter of the Jagans, publicly accused the people in the party her father founded of stealing at unimaginable levels. She said that she was ashamed and her audience listened.

Now, a man who challenged for the presidential nominee of his party, has become the latest to complain about the levels of corruption. Mr Ralph Ramkarran has said that some of the corruption may be perceived. None can fault that statement. Burnham’s wealth was perceived but people believed and acted against it. But there are clear cases of corruption. And Mr Ramkarran wants the head of state to act.

These days, very few of the accused can say that they are as clean as driven snow. In the first instance their physical assets defy explanation. When one compares these assets to their earnings there seems to be no correlation. In some countries the tax man would have intervened but in Guyana, given the nature of the politics, he has chosen to remain silent.

One case was revealed when a woman whose earnings were no more than $40,000 per month from the Guyana Oil Company, proceeded to buy a house for $60 million. This was brought to the attention of Head of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Khurshid Sattaur, who simply ignored the information.

There are other reports of corruption, all of which remain uncontested.  And there is a reason for this. The people who should conduct the investigations subvert themselves to the political directorate. The result is that if someone is close to the political directorate then that person enjoys immense protection, even from criminal protection.

There is now the case of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL). This body controls Government assets. It has the power to dispose of these assets and it does not have to account to the National Assembly.

Now there is a charge of rampant corruption with funds from NICIL. The Parliamentarians say that they have to investigate and that they would like to see the books. But the government is saying that this would not happen. Is there something to hide? Since NICIL controls state assets the least that could happen is that people be allowed to see how these assets are preserved or disposed of.

In the same way that the auditor has found that the government-owned National Communications Network cannot account for some $215 million, NICIL is probably in the same position. In the case of NCN the money might never have been collected from people who placed advertisements. In the case of NICIL there may be people who have acquired government assets without completing the payment. This is dishonest.  This is a corrupt practice.

And as if the heavens have opened, each day there are new reports of corruption being unearthed somewhere. We now have the city council among the latest band of corrupt practices. Already the NCN probe has revealed that people caused to be paid to their personal accounts, money destined to the media outlet.

President Ramotar has to take control and act condignly. Corruption has caused his party, for the first time, to preside over a minority government. Further corruption could see the People’s Progressive Party losing the seat of government altogether.

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  • Cyril Balkaran  On 06/20/2012 at 1:38 am

    The issue of CORRUPTION in High Places must be confronted by the people of Guyana. The Government cannot fight Corruption alone and therefore those who have the Information must come forward and head straight to the Police with their information. The police is the one who will do the investigation and bring their findings to the attention of the higher police authority before a charge is laid and before a warrant can be issued for the wrong doer. It is as simple as this. Step1. Collect your facts,photos and other evidences and take them to the police. Step 2. Make sure your report is written in the Police Logs at the Station. Step 3. Give the Police a reasonable time to act on the information you have given. Step 4. If the police is not reacting after a reasonable time, take your complaints with your copies to the MEDIA. The responsible media will highlight the complaints to John Public with some measure of anonmity for your protection as a corruption buster. The citizens, the government including the wrong doer will also see it and read it in the Press. That is why the PRESS is there to do INVESTIGATIVE Reporting. It means a lot of work must be done to unearth the crimes and the criminals. People get away when politicians ask to bring the evidence. If no one cooperates with anyone for information gathering then we a re spinning top in mud and should shut our mouths up.

    About FORBES MAGAZINE, we must not be fooled by the editor who is irresponsible when he said that the magazine never existed. He should do investigative Journalism and speak the truth. The Magazine reported that FORBES BURNHAM was the 5th Richest Black man at that time. He was not any man who was rich. The auditor general of Guyana reported to the Government that the $450million US dollars released to Forbes by the Caribbean Development Bank in early 1980’s under the stewartship of William Demas,went straight into the Swiss Bank Account of the President. It never reached the Books of Guyana,nor the accounting system of the Auditor General. What hogwash for a piece of irresponsible journalism. The editor of Kaiteur news must find out about the debt Pardon and see howmuch the T&T Govt and the Parris Club wrote off at the request of Jagan!

  • Cyril Balkaran  On 06/20/2012 at 1:52 am

    We must not be afraid to be a whistle blower. Recently it was stated that the Customs and Excise Dept was losing millions in uncollected taxes on the newly imported Prado vehicles and also that someone in the Public Service had admitted to forging his boss’s signature on ten such documents and allowed the bribrery system to work in the interest of the public servants. It also reported that the public servant had fled the country with his entire family and that the authorities know where to find him. This is an interesting revelation as it would seem that the millions in lost revenues does not concern the Customs and excise dept and the police must be investigating this one. White collar crimes must be investigated and the offenders must be brought to justice as swiftly as possible.

  • Gloria Y Fredericks  On 06/20/2012 at 3:00 am

    The Guyanese community in general is in a box. With accusations of overt dishonesty and corruption among Government employees and elected officials, there must be some mechanism to not only get to the bottom of it, but to prosecute the wrongdoers, regardless of who is suspected, or how high the reach must go. The problem for Guyana is to identify the person or persons, agencies and law enforcement who are courageous enough to bell the cat. Come on Guyanese, stand up for what is right to help your country and rid it of this cancer. Undoubtedly there may be threats against any individual or group or department head who dares to initiate an investigation, but it has to be done. Is it possible to enlist international intervention regarding this matter? Haiti and the removal of Papa Doc come to mind.

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