There is a principle that revolves around Supplier Integrity/Due Diligence in Public Procurement that democratic governments comply with to reduce, if not eliminate, the potential for crooks and terrorist sympathizers to secure lucrative government contracts as a means of laundering dirty money or financing terrorism.
It involves a range of checks designed to ascertain specifics about vendors, assess risk and by extension, tax burden.
For Guyana, which remains shrouded in a political cloak of racketeering, this is particularly imperative, if it wants to shed the moniker of corruption inherited from the Jagdeo government which had to satisfy Financial Action Task Force compliance standards to retain its seat at the world’s economic table.
But, with a collective political cognizance that remains mired in old –style practices, the Coalition Government’s pledge to implement tax relief and fight corruption remains as suspicious as the Parking Meter and Vehicle Booting Enforcement that has now appended itself to this Administration, that remains in persistent nose dive.
Contemplations of Guyana flirting with Banana Republic’ status have become, shamefully, ubiquitous and these should not be dismissed as cavalier thoughts or morally obtuse sentiments. These are academic conclusions drawn from the succession of blunders made by a government whose collaborative political acumen should simply produce better diggidy results.
Some things are irrefutable.
This Administration continues to be plagued by the politics of patronage and inexplicable autonomy by subordinates…no real surprise here, though, because the politicians of patronage remain firmly entrenched.
But there is need for elevated concern when a Mayor, a functionary at Local Government level, could autocratically impose a service that flagrantly violates the country’s Procurement Laws and arbitrarily impact the pockets of people who are forced to use the mandated service.
Though it is incomprehensible it is absolutely reprehensible that officials higher than this Mayor allowed matters to run this amok.
Some things are indisputable.
Had due diligence been operational culture, the government would have discovered that that Vendor Cush and his Associates fall well short of the Supplier Integrity Standard.
They would have discovered that Ifagbamila/Kamua Cush and Simon Mosheshvili/Moshel are convicted felons in the USA – Cush being charged with grand larceny, jailed for four months with a restitution of $7,981.50 and was/is on five years probation which he subsequently violated while Mosheshvili/Moshel was sentenced to 20 months in prison, reduced from 46-57 for smuggling cigarettes and batteries -a discovery made only after the commendably dogged investigation of Guyanese independent journalist, Mark Jacobs.
But here’s some more.
Smart City Solutions Inc. is registered with an address, 983 Water Edge Place Hewlett, NY 11557 along with, at least, a dozen other businesses. The building is registered in Nassau County New York as a single family residence, paying residential tax only and not business tax. Curiously too, the home is associated with felonious partner Simon Moshel/Mosheshvili, whose name is also spelled Semion Mochechvili, along with several of his family members who,apparently, live there. And, as if all this is not enough, the date of the incorporation of Smart Solutions- now Holdings Inc., is September 7th 2016 – even later than the contracted date with the city.
If Guyana is doing business as a Republic- not of the pejorative kind- it would behove them to, at least, ensure that the address to which they entrust the country’s records is not in violation of occupancy regulations. Nassau County has zoned this building as residential and not business. It would be quite embarrassing if Nassau County officials were to raid this home for doing business out of a building that pays only residential taxes and find that Guyana’s politicians are amongst the clients of this documented felon. And, though it may be an arrest for an outstanding traffic warrant, the fact that Amir Oren -other partner and Managing Director of Business Development – had to be arrested on a $400.00 traffic violation does not boost his professional integrity.
Supplier Integrity/Due Diligence in Public Procurement aside, Guyana is still a country of laws, with a Procurement Act on its books. Part II of its General Provisions, 5:V, would automatically exclude Cush and cohorts from tendering at all, for it specifically disqualifies any person convicted of any criminal offence related to professional conduct…arguably their integrity. It also requires Tender Offers and the publishing of acceptance of those offers- inclusive of a feasibility study – that Amir Oren, the questionable Managing Director of Business Development, said was not obligatory.
The autonomy that Mayor Chase-Green asserted suggests an incomprehensible lack of regard for accountability and organizational structure. Chase – Green should have been advised that flying to Mexico and Panama to ‘see’ parking meters would have been quiet corruption with very loud optics; especially when Town Clerk, Royston King, Head of Finance Committee Oscar Clarke and Committee Member Garrett were part of the junket.
That the lines between propriety and corruption have been smudged is the subtext here. It’s the scrolling headlines that arrest attention -part of which is Vendor Cush’s defense of his irreverence by admonishing the News for its “Shocking ignorance of matters of legal and business standards….” and his brazen drawing of a parallel to the shifting terms of his contract and those of the comparatively solid tenets that are typical of business done through the World Bank and the US Department of Transportation (US DOT).
And, as a further point of clarity, funds disbursed by The World Bank generally pass the smell test and are disbursed based on a feasibility study that is practical and calculated to offer a longevity built on rates and practices that are not usurious or unsustainable. The length of contracts engaged in by both The World Bank and US DOT are not revolving numbers, arbitrarily maneuvered to meet specific talking points but are determined periods derived from a complex calculation of income, anticipated use and projected revenue.
And, because this complexity affects the nation’s economic matrix, decisions should not be made by low level players like Mayors and political relics like Oscar Clarke, whose political obsolescence has long lost operational fungibility. This decision, of necessity, has to be made at Central Government level and has to incorporate the acumen of the Economists, Actuaries, Tax Specialists and professionals in that realm.
Jetting Chase-Green and her team to Mexico and Panama was brazen bribery offered, not only because these vendors are short on moral turpitude – they are convicted felons – but because they were confident that these keepers of the public purse were equally as morally derelict.
The constantly revised terms of contract duration and shifting per -hour costs are clear indicators that a professional and comprehensive feasibility study was not done before the imposition of this service. Forty nine years, two sets of twenty – year terms…what are the terms here? The Mayor’s Press Release on March 1st, 2017 lauding the receipt of “20% takings” says nothing. 20% of how much ? What are the performance measures? And why is 80% justifiable payment for this deal? What is the total cost of this thing? Is the purpose of municipal parking meters to maximize revenue, or is it to provide a low-cost convenience to citizens and the businesses they patronize?
There’s nothing wrong with privatization but the public and the law makers need to know where the contracting dollars are going and what economic benefits are being derived.
The parties who inked this contract are demonstrably felons and politicians who are unfazed by compromising themselves.
Citizens are registering their outrage through protests and every time a car is booted, another piece of political capital from the Coalition is expended.
There is a crisis of confidence … the Coalition now looks like an island…the gap between this government and the majority that elected them to power is getting wider … people are looking to their leaders for explanations…not just answers but honest ones….
What’s going on?
Why does it look like it’s government by accident?
This democracy has gotten so quiet it’s freakin’ inaudible.