The coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, despite its complaints of finding an empty coffer, is in fact perpetrating a brazen heist of the Treasury through acts of cronyism. It is also doling out large contracts without any competitive process.
This was the declaration made by Former President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, as he led an Opposition charge in a marathon debate in the National Assembly on Friday last.
The House was at the time debating a motion calling on the members to adopt the policies that had been set out by Head of State, David Granger, when he addressed Parliament on October 13 last.
The President during his address had accused the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration of cronyism in its presiding over numerous failed projects and had pointed to the $1 billion Kato Secondary School, among others.
Jagdeo, in taking umbrage with the President’s remarks, sought to point out that what the President did not say is that each of the projects given out under the past administration was in fact done so using a public bidding process.
“Every single one of the projects that he mentioned has problems with quality and under-performance but one thing I can say is that every single one of these contracts was publicly tendered,” said Jagdeo.
He spoke of the use of public contractors and supervision from the public pool on all of the projects but sought to draw a contrast to the approach of the APNU/AFC administration.
“Contrast this to the approach to rent the bond,” said Jagdeo in reference to a recent Cabinet decision to rent a Sussex Street property for the storage of drugs and medical supplies at a cost of $14.5 million per month.
Dr Jagdeo was adamant that there was absolutely no public tender for this contract which works out to $174 million per year or in excess of half a billion dollars over the three years.
He pointed out too that “we know where the office (is) located for this company” in reference to Linden Holdings Inc located in a Middle Street building, formerly the Sidewalk Café, owned by Government Minister Cathy Hughes.
Jagdeo said that, “assuming Kato school has amortisation (repayment) of 10 years at $174 million a year we would have spent $1.7 billion.”
“You complain about corruption and cronyism and you don’t see it,” Jagdeo quipped.
Jagdeo also responded to President Granger’s assertion that the APNU/AFC Government had in fact inherited huge liabilities in the form of legal settlements.
He was adamant however that this was not true in that Government did not inherit any such.
He rubbished the well documented arguments regarding the Rudisa beverages settlement which he said pales in comparison to the out-of-court settlement involving Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL).
Jagdeo is of the view that this transaction was done surreptitiously outside the view of the public and will in fact expose the Treasury to as much as $80 billion in liabilities.
Outlining his case that Government is in fact perpetrating a ‘brazen heist on the Treasury,’ Jagdeo pointed to the more than $400 million spent on the D’Urban Park Project, again undertaken by handpicked contractors, and called the transaction malodorous.
“You pontificating…yet have these brazen acts of heist of the Treasury…just do the comparatives, how can you stand with a straight face and talk about projects that we tendered,” Jagdeo charged.