President Ramotar is too incompetent to reduce corruption?
By Political Correspondence
President Ramotar was quoted on Demerara Waves as saying that “efforts to upset the smooth running of Guyana would not be tolerated.” While we support his view, we are baffled as to why he is taking so long to establish the Public Procurement Commission to start the process of weeding out corruption? The establishment of the Public Procurement Commission in Guyana is being delayed by the regime at the expense of the majority who remain poor. This contributes directly to the poverty gap between the rich and the poor, which is at an all-time high since we gained independence. It also reveals the hard fact that the PPP leadership, despite their constant prattling, is not interested in creating employment for the poor and the working class as well as putting an end to corruption. According to statistics from the various Regions, unemployment in Guyana ranges from 35% to 70% and sadly, the Jagdeo/Ramotar regime does not have a plan to reduce it. This is very worrisome for the poor and the working class who are in dire straits and whose existence and survival are being threatened.
It is just plain wrong for President Ramotar to blame others for the poor performance of the economy and his government over the past ten months. Did Mr. Ramotar heed the repeated requests from the people and get rid of the Jagdeoites?
What are the causes of the poor performance of the economy?
We are of the opinion that the Skeldon Sugar Factory continues to be a major destabilizing factor in the sugar belt as it drains billions of dollars from GuySuCo, thus denying sugar workers a decent pay for a hard day’s work.
Why is there a 33% reduction in sugar production in 2012 compared to 2011? It has little to do with the workers’ strike and even less to do with the weather as claimed by GuySuCo, but everything to do with the mismanagement of that white elephant called the Skeldon Sugar Factory, which to date has cost taxpayers in excess of US$200 million to build but is still plagued with a series of problems. We want to remind the regime that in the colonial days, they also had labour and weather problems, but they were successful in comparison with the PPP‘s management of the sugar industry today. What they did not have was a Chairman from New Jersey who is costing taxpayers close to US$6,000 in airfares and room and board expenses every month. We are convinced that there are qualified Guyanese at home who could fill the position of Chairman of GuySuCo but the regime’s propensity is to provide jobs for their friends without value and respect for the misuse of the taxpayers’ money. We are calling on the majority opposition to use their influence and demand a thorough investigation of this white elephant at Skeldon.
Who built the white elephant at Skeldon with the promise that by 2014 Guyana will be producing some 400,000 tons of sugar? Not Nagamootoo, not Jock Campbell but Jagdeo and Robert Persaud with the full support of Mr Ramotar, who was one of the directors of GuySuCo. So why are the workers being blamed today? The Guyanese people are not daft; they know who ‘bruck up’ GuySuCo and they also know who is using their money to fatten the bank accounts of the friends.
It took the young Sharma Solomon to force the PPP to do something tangible for the people of Linden whom they had abandoned for more than a decade. The parliamentary opposition led by Mr. David Granger has been unable to do what Mr Solomon did. All the opposition is capable of doing is calling news conferences, but without any follow-up action. They have not been able to mobilize the people into action as Sharma Solomon did. Mr. Granger and others in APNU and the AFC ought to know that the people did not elect a parliamentary majority opposition to act and behave as if they are the minority. It has been more than eight months since the election and all the opposition can lay claim on is the reduction of the budget by $21 billion of which $11 billion was restored by them less than four months after. So the question is: Why did the opposition cut the budget in the first place?
The facts speak to the millions that have been provided to the business buddies of the PPP in contracts and other deals, and the opposition has done little or nothing to stop it. All this does is to make the rich richer and the poor and the working class poorer. These lopsided socio-economic conditions will not lead to real economic growth and prosperity for the masses, and sooner rather than later, the wealthy and the PPP will realize that their fortunes depend on how they treat the working class in Guyana. Linden is a case in point where their starve-and-feed strategy has collapsed overnight.
It is time for the PPP to do as they promised the electorate at the end of last year and implement a development agenda that will bring economic development and empowerment to the poor and the working class, not just their business associates, friends and political sponsors. The majority opposition should stick with their election‘s promises rather than prop-up the PPP regime with more billions of taxpayers’ money.
Where is the promise of a reduction in the VAT for the consumers and mothers of Guyana? Where is the promise of a tangible salary increase for the working class? Where is the promise of establishing the Public Procurement Commission to ensure that the best and most experienced contractors are engaged in order to secure the best value for the taxpayers‘money? Where is the promise to end the power outages which the PPP criticized the PNC for more than twenty years ago? Where is the promise to appoint an Ombudsman? Where is the promise to be fair and equitable in the distribution of state resources? And where is the promise by Mr Ramotar to reduce corruption?
Corruption has become cancerous in Guyana and it is time for the majority opposition to not only talk and talk but do something tangible about it so that more resources can be poured into the economic upliftment of the poor and the working class. It is time for the parliamentary majority opposition MPs to recognize their meaningful role in society and act accordingly and stop shying away from their responsibilities. Full non-cooperation with the government must become the mantra until the PPP changes its greedy and corrupt ways.
Sharma Solomon is a classic example of how to defend the interests of Lindeners and force the PPP to change its partisan strategy. It is time for the leaders of the opposition APNU and the AFC to follow in the footsteps of Mr Solomon and tell the PPP in no uncertain terms that the time for change is now.