CORRUPTION in and by the coalition government was rife and systemic but the magnitude of their perfidious rape of the nation’s monetary and other resources is mind-boggling and mind-numbing, as the newly-installed PPP/C Government is discovering, even as the Auditor-General is having to grapple with the consequences of thefts on such a scale that would test the endurance of his staff to the limit.
Any new government, faced with a myriad challenges to its administration, would obviously want trusted and competent aides to implement and manage its policies and programs for catalysation of a recovery of its macro-economic paradigm and social development synergies; especially within a construct of near-collapse of every sector that generates job and wealth-creation; and a demoralised private sector that has experienced entrepreneurial retrogression that ensued in many businesses collapsing in recent times, with some barely surviving this nation’s economic downturn, caused by many factors, but mainly by the decreased spending powers of the citizens of the land who were, in a multiplicity of ways, taking a battering from the coalition government – increased taxation, job losses, contracted opportunities for employment or wealth-creation in any sphere, among others.
It is unfathomable how, within a five-year period, even with increased taxation that added billions to national revenues annually, that Guyana’s treasury could be empty, with the country becoming highly-indebted since 2016, because of borrowing of massive amounts to fund profligacy on an unimaginable scale, mostly on non-productive programmes and pageantry. The cost of debt service has been rising rapidly and, in 2018 the Debt Service to Revenue (DSR) ratio was 8.2 per cent of the taxes collected and is expected to climb even more in 2019 to 8.8 per cent.
Speaking to the New York Guyanese Diaspora in December last year, former President and current Vice-President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, asserted that the coalition government’s economic philosophy is debilitating.
Dr. Jagdeo elucidated further, explaining that the APNU+AFC government has spent in excess of $1.1 trillion, even while increasing tax collection by approximately $88 billion in just over four years.
According to Dr. Jagdeo, when the PPP/C demitted office the total debt collection after 23 years in office was $135 billion. After about four years of coalition governance taxation reached about $230 billion, which is nearly 70 per cent increase in overall taxation. This has consequently reduced the disposable income of wage-earners.
He also informed his audience that the previous government had, in a space of four years, borrowed some $900 million.
The accrual cost of servicing this debt burden will be humongous, even after the coalition government inherited billions in the treasury and sound foreign reserves from the PPP/C Government when they demitted office in 2915. They obviously have nothing much to show for such massive output of state funds and borrowed monies; especially since the few projects they implemented were foreign-funded.
Every sector has been denuded of funds; as an instance, Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) continues to struggle to pay its staff and other debts, as has been revealed by Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Minister, Gail Teixeira. The commission is in a current state of bankruptcy to the extent that it cannot pay its staff, when it had a surplus of $4 billion at the end of 2015.
But the main causative factor of this profligacy is emerging and angering the national psyche, even the coalition supporters are disgusted at this blatant disregard of their welfare and the betrayal of their trust; pervasive cronyism, sinecure positions that has provided – not just a good life; but a luxurious life for a chosen few; even while children were going hungry and a pandemic was sweeping unchecked across the land, causing loss of precious Guyanese lives.
The headlines are screaming: “APNU+AFC paid 23 political appointees over $7.7M monthly, with no evidence of work” – Guyana Times; “Hundreds of millions paid to ministry advisors, community officers without evidence of performance” – Stabroek News; “56 employees drawdown $800M — with no evidence of work under Bulkan’s watch” – Guyana Chronicle; “Min. of Communities paid hundreds of millions to over 50 contract workers – No proof of work done” – Kaieteur News. That was from merely one ministry.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has four communication Officers, when one competent Press Officer would suffice for information dissemination.
Then there are the multiplicity of advisers and other fat cats merely occupying space in government ministries- and not even occupying the spaces because some of them are not even domiciled in Guyana; the Director of Parks, for instance; thousands of persons holding sinecure positions that provided them with hefty salaries and a plethora of benefits, with no or little service provision; but Guyana’s children were denied a $10,000 cash grant and enabling programmes that benefitted the vulnerable in society were dismantled – water and electricity subsidies; efficient and effective healthcare; a multitude of social ills that were not being addressed; while billionaires were being awarded even more billions and other resources that denuded the State of income and provisions to implement wealth and job-creational initiatives. A case in point is the dismantling and sale of the operational parts of the sugar-producing factories, gifts of lands that were slated for major national projects, such as the deep-water harbor in Berbice, among others.
The PPP/C Government has one mantra – development with a human face. Cabinet is preparing the annual budget; but is forced to contract its planned developmental programmes because of the fiscal deficiencies; so it is imperative for a prioritising of its spending that would benefit the Guyanese people.
PPP/C Government is not witch-hunting anyone because of ethnic bias or political affiliation; otherwise they would fire almost the entire public service.
However, the parasites who have sucked the blood from this nation’s taxpayers spanning a five-year period, to the tune of billions of dollars and other resources that could and should have afforded the Guyanese working-class people the promised “good life for all” have amassed enough to provide for their generations and those revenues have to be diverted to social programmes that would eventually provide every citizen of the land a life full of promise and a fructification of a truly good life for all.
PPP/C Government has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it intends to retain the services of anyone who is competent and can deliver requisite service to the nation; as has been proven by its retention of Carl Greenidge for continuation of its good officer process between Guyana and Venezuela, among hundreds of other technocrats and the inherited staffing component of the various sectors; as well as its consultations on policies with the various stakeholders in the land.
The Irfaan Ali Government is not on a witch-hunt; but is resolute in pursuit of transparency and accountability in expending the nation’s resources for the benefit of all Guyanese. Ridding the nation of fat-cats who are holding sinecure positions is merely one of many interventions needed to effect this.