By James McAllister
FAIR Observer, a US based non-profit media organisation, with a stated objective of informing and educating global citizens, warned Guyanese that should “… the notoriously corrupt PPP” win the coming elections, Guyana could expect a fate like Equatorial Guinea. This is a fate “where a small elite takes all the oil money and the majority remain in poverty.” On the other hand, the publication had praise for President David Granger who was described as humble and honest.
The publication, founded by Atul Singh, a highly-respected foreign policy and international affairs expert, projects that the “gigantic” financial inflow could transform the country. It states that once the oil money is invested wisely, all citizens could become wealthy, like in Norway. However, this is all dependent on President Granger continuing in office.
This is a big deal, not only because Fair Observer has no skin in the game, or because they predicted such drastically different quality of life for the Guyanese people if the PPP wins as against if President Granger wins. It is a big deal because during its twenty three years in office, the PPP showed us exactly what it is capable of.
The oil blocks give away, the Skeldon Sugar Factory white elephant, the Berbice Bridge scam, Pradoville scam, GPC sole-sourcing and the law books theft are some of the reasons Guyanese must be afraid of the PPP. These are examples of how the PPP could make Guyana just like Equatorial Guinea.
In Equatorial Guinea, the ruling cabal uses mega projects to siphon off billions of dollars. The Skeldon Sugar Factory and the Berbice Bridge are examples of the PPP using the same strategy. The US$200M sugar factory, which was built against the advice of all experts, is US$60M overpriced. In Equatorial Guinea, this US$60M, or most of it, would go into the pockets of the ruling cabal. The floating option for the US$40M Berbice River Bridge was chosen against the advice of all experts. This allowed for the purchase of all the components for the bridge from one supplier, and suppliers for components of this nature normally give a commission of 10 per cent to the person who brings them the business. Someone in the PPP made a commission of US$2.5M, while Berbicians are left saddled with a bridge they can’t afford to cross, if the government does not subsidise the toll. It was Equatorial Guinea style.
The scary thing about PPP corruption is that they do not hide to do it, they do it in plain sight and make it official. The oil blocks giveaway, Pradoville, and GPC sole-sourcing are examples of the PPP sitting in cabinet and giving the stamp of approval to what would otherwise be considered corrupt activities. Imagine what they could do with the oil revenue.
The most frightening of all is the law books theft. It’s frightening because the PPP is arguing that it is not theft, because it was the President who gifted the law books to the person who took it. Hence, by extension, no PPP official could be guilty of stealing from the State if the President declares he approved of the theft.
When Fair Observer declared the PPP “notoriously corrupt” and predicted that PPP officials would become filthy rich, while the Guyanese masses remain poor, they were judging the PPP on their track record. They were aware the international financial institutions, on whom the PPP was dependent for project financing, and the ABC countries placed tremendous pressure on the PPP. Conditionalities for loans normally included measures to prevent corruption and ensure transparency and accountability. Yes, the PPP was able to do all that they did.
Now the situation is different. If we allow the PPP to get into government, their corruption will not be stymied by World Bank and IDB conditionalities. The threat of withholding loans will not be as potent as it was before oil started to flow. The PPP will have a free reign.
Many pundits will call upon voters to look at the manifestos. However, as it relates to the PPP, their manifesto is not relevant. What is relevant is their record, and the fact that they are likely to indulge in another cycle of corruption. This likelihood is evident from the way in which the PPP is embracing multiple persons who are accused of corruption. It is as if corruption is a badge of honour in the PPP.
Irfaan Ali and Anil Nandlall are credibly accused of corruption, and the PPP rewarded them. Irfaan Ali is made presidential candidate, and Anil Nandlall was the most likely alternative. What is the message the PPP is sending to the Guyanese people? Whatever that message is, one thing is clear, a vote for the PPP will be like playing fire. A vote for the PPP will jeopardise the welfare of this and future generations.