The problem with President Granger’s “It was a hellish inheritance,” speech at his Party’s Congress is that the inheritance is now three years old and counting….
There’s absolutely no argument against the state of disrepair the Coalition found the country in but three years after taking office we expect more than the same campaign lines of grievance against the PPP that was and remains demonstrably responsible for the drought levels of the nation’s coffers.
But why this tone and at this time, we’re wondering? Why are challenges that the Campaign acknowledged existed and pledged to defeat since 2014 being exhumed at a Party Congress and in 2018?
The Manifesto under Fighting Corruption: “…lists the areas of national patrimony and treasury that may have been slush funds” and were targets for investigation. The increasingly bracing language sounds like frustration. Calling it a hellish inheritance now doesn’t make it any worse. It’s just as bad as when the Coalition took it over and pledged to fix it.
The Guysuco loss was decades in the making. We knew sugar was existing mostly because of the European Union subsidy. Rice, we knew, was supposed to be supported by the Petro Caribe deal struck with Hugo Chavez- the exchange of rice for oil. These industries were due for forensic audit. Are those audits being done and if they are, where are they, in terms of proximity to conclusion?
And it was very questionable that the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) would be an investor in the Berbice Bridge Company Inc. After all, NIS represents pension for many and should be protected. But was the investment investigated by Forensic Audit as promised? Was Roger Luncheon, under whom 2.59 billion of NIS contributions ever investigated and if so what was the outcome?
And those bids for government contracts. We agree that there were questionable alliances with the government tendering process and engineers, that shoddy and often incomplete work was accepted and agree with President Granger for citing the bridge at Maruka and revetments at Kumaka as an example.
But why would the Granger government award a $119.4 million contract to Mohamed Ramzan Ali for bridge reconstruction when there are so many questions surrounding his contracts under the previous government? Wasn’t he one of the fortunate recipients of some of the $805 million in construction awarded by Irfan Ali, then Housing and Water Minister, who became unconscionably rich on a Ministers salary after being given that portfolio? Was there no other and preferably scandal free engineer available, especially since some of this construction was cited for forensic review?
And, as a disturbing point of note, the nation is still plagued by criminality, three years into new Government.
Without going through every line of Granger’s lament, this address to Congress read like requiem to life only envisaged. Criticizing the previous government for the current government’s failure to meet a substantial three year mark of achievement really rings hollow, particularly since it’s a regurgitation of the campaign platform.
We know that the system was broken that’s why we supported a Coalition for the win, so telling us about the fiscal policies that have been implemented to return to a path of progress would have been information better shared. Recently, there have been concerns about an oil contract that promises to give Guyanese the lower end of the deal and there continues to be concern about a Chinese presence in every iota of the economy, without explanation of how far into Guyana’s pocket they are.
Those remain critical points for discussion.
And the issue that really impacts all Guyanese is teachers and their impending strike. It would have been good to offer reassurance that teachers would be paid commensurate with their responsibility to educate and nurture and that every effort would be made to ensure that teachers and students head to school upon opening day.
Pinning an overall lackluster economy and a social environment fraught with rape and murder and every possible social ill on a previous Administration has a shelf life and exhuming its’ body and placing it on virtual life support to give the impression that there’s a breath left has special risks…if cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR, is not your forté.
Reminding the country of the PPP era should be done by demonstrating how improved systems are, how more accountable this government is, how inclusive it is and across the spectrum.
And intimidating Congress members by threatening them with some form of retaliation if they criticize the President or discuss what was said, Mr. President, is the stuff insecure dictators are made of.
Clearly, many feel it’s the type of rant that should be made public.
With three quarters of the term almost complete, the President’s speeches should be at least 98% future and no more than 2% inheritance.
This performance at Congress was hardly 2% future … but with 98% hope that the people have amnesia.
What’s that sound?
It’s only the stampede of Party people galloping to rake us over the usual coals, of name calling and any other puerile act that tickles their tribal fancy.
Reading this OP ED tells you how much we’re shaking in our boots.