OP-ED: Nepotism is a big part of APNU/AFC corruption- Ramsammy

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Below is an Opinion Editorial done by Dr Leslie Ramsammy:

Dr Leslie Ramsammy

APNU+AFC Corruption is as obvious as it is obvious that water is wet. From Central Government and the Cabinet to the Public Corporations, Government Agencies, Local Government bodies and the level of individuals in the public service, corruption is metastasizing. One thing is certain, APNU+AFC is driving the frenzied corruption, empowering an architecture that condones widespread corruption.

The corruption architecture was established from the start. Joe Harmon, the Minister of the Presidency, publicly articulated a policy that APNU+AFC considers jobs, both paid and unpaid, and other favors extended to APNU+AFC’s political donors and activists as “legitimate” honorific rewards for donors, friends and families.

Another APNU+AFC senior spokesman, Raphael Trotman, reinforced this obnoxious concept by arguing that such donations are political investments. He posited that APNU+AFC considers such political investments legitimate and is obligated to reward donors with government contracts and other favors. While APNU+AFC now sees this as “legitimate”, they had once agreed with the rest of us and the rest of the world  that this is bribery, corruption and criminal.

Nepotism is an egregious component of APNU+AFC’s corruption architecture, where family, friends and political donors are awarded with jobs and other influential positions, such as non-paid advisory status, which can be used to gain prestige and influence for ulterior motives. APNU+AFC provided early signals, through official and unapologetic public pronouncements by Harmon and Trotman, that its posture relating to nepotism is one of friendly accommodation and a political architecture to promote the interests of APNU+AFC.

Family, friends, political activists and donors are everywhere to be found in the public service today. There are clearly certain jobs that are always preserved for political appointees. This is true in every country. But when traditional public service positions are politicized and extended to family, friends, political activists and political donors, nepotism replaces the independence of the public service and is against the people, whether they voted for you or not.

Nepotism started from the inception from within Cabinet when two Ministers – Nicolette Henry and Annette Ferguson – were awarded scholarships to the UK and America at a cost of about $3.4M each. This is in spite of the pronouncement by the President that he had approved a humongous pay increase for Cabinet because his Cabinet had the most qualified, well-trained and competent people.

A Board Member of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited, the publisher of the Guyana Chronicle, Ms. Tabitha Sarbo Halley, has a $3.4M scholarship in America and the daughter of Minister Rupert Roopnarine has a UK scholarship worth $2.7M. There are dozens of other training and scholarships given to relatives, friends and donors. None of them competed with other citizens for these scholarships.

As these scandalous revelations come to people’s attention, APNU+AFC has announced they have established a scholarship panel to bring transparency and accountability in award of scholarships. The panel is as follows: Mrs. Ingrid Fung, Ms. Donna Chapman, Ms. Elizabeth Alleyne, Ms. Claudette Austin and Mr. Randolph Leitch. There are many people now shaking their heads. A majority of people in Guyana has no confidence that this panel could effectively erase the nepotism that is so evident in APNU+AFC’s scholarship awards.

The nepotism train includes a generous dishing out of jobs to family and friends. I am not referring to the appointment of the President’s son-in-law as a Minister or the Prime Minister’s son-in-law as a “honorific” negotiator, liaison officer and salesman for the privatization of the Skeldon Sugar Factory and maybe other national assets. One Minister has his sister, brother-in-law and nephew working with him, none of whom meets the qualification criteria for the jobs they have been given. They are all paid more than many persons with much more senior positions in the public service and benefit from a government vehicle for work and recreation purposes. This travesty, in fact, is widespread and reaches every sector and every ministry and government agencies, as regular staff have been terminated or transferred to create room for family members, friends, activists and donors.

The tentacles of nepotism snare government contracts for construction and services away from legitimate and qualified contractors. While much national focus has been on the Central Government and national agencies, contracts at the local levels have become a putrid soup of nepotism.

The recent complaints from the Mahdia Chambers of Commerce in Region 8 are, unfortunately, the rule rather than the exception. They claim that the $1.63B 2017 Budget allocation is being used to give contracts for works in the region to family, friends and activists of APNU+AFC. They cited examples such as a person sitting on the Tender Board Evaluation Committee to evaluate a tender of a family member, the husband of a member of the tender board given a dietary contract for the North Pakaraimas schools, a 2016 $100M dietary contract for Kato Secondary School which is still not in operation and an  8’X8′ clay block incinerator for $11M.

Nepotism and corruption are ominous hallmarks of dictatorial regimes. By now, APNU+AFC, brazenly tattooed with nepotism and corruption as a badge of honor, is deep in the cesspit of dictatorship with all its sinister consequences. Beware Guyana.

 

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