Less than 24 hours after the Office of the Leader of the Opposition claimed that the 16-month-old A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government was already embroiled in some 25 “scandals” of corruption, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, challenged the Opposition to document these scandals and present them to the Government.
Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira
On Wednesday, the office of Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo released an eight-page dossier, chronicling what were said to be 25 scandals of the David Granger Administration, declaring that the coalition has more scandals on its rap sheet than the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) amassed in its 23 years in office.
“The APNU/AFC Government has been exposed with more scandals and corruptions in 16 months than successive PPP/C Administrations were accused of in 23 years,” Jagdeo’s office said, adding that between June 2015 and August 2016, 14 months of the coalition Government, some 16 “scandals” were uncovered.
It said that August 2016 “took the cake” with the exposure of the highly-controversial Sussex Street drug bond deal, the BK International and Government of Guyana’s $1 billion “out-of-court” settlement and the issuance of two fuel licences to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Water Inc, Richard Van West-Charles.
Responding to these accusations, Harmon told reporters that if the Opposition documented its claims, the Government stood ready to deal with them both inside and out of the National Assembly.
“Any accusations that they have let them bring it; if there are some matters which should be brought to the floor of the National Assembly, we will deal with them. If there are other matters to be dealt with otherwise, we will deal with them. It could be 25; whatever is the number they chose to say it is; let them itemise these things and we are prepare to deal with them one by one,” Harmon told reporters after a post-Cabinet news conference yesterday.
When asked if the governing coalition was willing to debate these issues, the State Minister answered in the affirmative, declaring “let them bring it, let them start the debate”.
Among the other “scandals” highlighted by Dr Jagdeo’s office are the questions which still linger over the inauguration of President David Granger, the alleged removal of eight containers of steel by BK International from the Public Health Ministry compound, the dismissal of close to 2000 Amerindian Community Service Officers (CSO), the appointment of 33 foreign honorary advisers, as well as a number of presidential and ministerial advisers.
The Opposition also listed the selection of a disqualified company to complete the Specialty Hospital, leading to an abandonment of the project, the 50 to 100 percent pay increase ministers received, the secrecy surrounding the D’Urban Park development project, pardoning of over 100 felons, and a number of out-of-court settlements with companies and individuals thought to be financiers of the coalition’s 2015 election campaign.
While in Opposition and before they coalesced, both APNU and the AFC, in 2012, had accused the PPP/C Administration of high-level corruption in a number of national projects, including Marriott Hotel, the Specialty Hospital, the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project (AFHP) and the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), triggering a live television debate on the issues.
But while the AFC participated in all the sessions, APNU only participated in the first debate on the AFHP, claiming that the format of the discussion was flawed.
However, the then Government had argued that APNU and the AFC were unable to show evidence of corruption and, as such, were making excuses.