Guyana’s Parliamentary Opposition has slammed the APNU+AFC coalition government for its alleged involvement in more scandals and corruptions in 16 months in office than successive PPPC administrations were accused of in 23 years!
Following is the full text of a statement from the Office of the Opposition Leader, and which was read by PPPC Executive Member and Parliamentary Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, at a recent news conference:
The Parliamentary Opposition has been diligently monitoring the APNU+AFC government use of public funds and the levels of transparency and accountability.
From June 10, 2015 to August 8, 2016, in a matter of fourteen (14) months of the APNU+AFC Coalition government, we have uncovered 16 scandals — an average of a scandal for each month. But the month of August 2016 “took the cake”– or so we thought– with the exposure of three (3) scandals (the Sussex St. Drug Bond, BK International/GoG settlement and two (2) fuel licenses issued to the head of Guyana Water Incorporated).
The August 8th, 2016 sitting of the National Assembly will go down as a day of scandals, exposures of the incompetence of this government, their lack of disclosure, lack of transparency, accountability and their violations of the constitution.
Regrettably it has not ended there. The month of September 2016 has continued to bring new scandals with four (4) new scandals and another one pending.
The latest tally of scandals and corrupt practices has now reached 25 in the sixteen (16) months of this government’s life.
The APNU+AFC government has been exposed with more scandals and corruptions in 16 months than successive PPPC administrations were accused of in 23 years!!!!!
HERE IS THE LIST OF 25 SCANDALS THUS FAR:-
1) May 2015
The cost of the inauguration ceremonies at the Parliament Buildings and, more particularly, the one at the Providence National Stadium has never been revealed.
2) May 2015
The removal of eight (8) containers containing steel by BK International from the Ministry of Public Health compound worth millions of dollars–in the first week after government changed— in violation of a court order. The government did nothing to retrieve the containers and has been silent.
3) July-August 2015
The dismissal of 1972 Amerindian community service officers at “one stroke of the pen” with no cause by the third (3rd) Vice-President and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. Despite a promise by VP Allicock in the National Assembly, during the 2015 Budget debate that the government would create a new programme to hire Amerindian youths, they instead replaced this programme with the Hinterland Entrepreneurial Youth Skills (HEYS) programme. HEYS is a six-month training programme with no entrepreneurial or employment component which is under severe duress as there are complaints that the facilitators and students have not received their stipends despite the budgetary provision of $1 billion.
4) July – December 2015
The appointment of 33 foreign honourary advisors to the government and the appointment of a top-heavy bureaucracy of Presidential and Ministerial advisors which have only been partially disclosed in the National Assembly in response to Questions to Ministers in 2016. The total numbers are approximated to be nearing 100 advisors (local and foreign) at a huge cost to the taxpayers.
5) August 2015 – September 2015
India/GoG funded Specialty Hospital – the government gave a contract to a company, Fedders Lloyd (that the Vice President Khemraj Ramjattan was its lawyer) without going to tender at a price yet unknown and in violation of the procurement laws. Despite public outcry, the government refused to terminate the contract for the Specialty Hospital. The company was delisted by the IDB and the Indian government and Eximbank withdrew the money for the loan. There has been no disclosure as to how much Fedders Lloyd was paid and what work had been done when the company was delisted and the project halted.
6) September 2015
The first act of the government was to give themselves enormous salary increases between 50 -100 % of what the former government ministers received. This was quietly done in September 2015 and the parliamentary opposition had to wage a struggle in Parliament to bring a motion to reverse this. When the motion was finally heard in December, it was defeated by the government’s one seat majority.
It should be remembered that the media having leaked the fact that the government was embarking on increasing the salaries of the President, VPs and Ministers, Minister Trotman, on behalf of the government, denied that the government was contemplating any salary increases for the Ministers. This was also denied during the debate on the 2015 Budget in August 2015.
Having gone into recess mid-September, the government stealthily published Order No.6 of 2015 in the Official Gazette, dated September 25th, 2015, increasing their salaries and making it retroactive to July 1, 2015.
Contrast this act with the government’s refusal to increase the salaries of the public servants in accordance with their campaign promises.
7) December 2015 – May 2016
Durban Park Development Project (DPk) for the Jubilee celebrations. The government has refused to provide information on the “private company” which was in charge of the preparations of the DPk prior to the Minister of Public Infrastructure “take over” of the project on the orders of the President. Who is/was this private company?
We do know that the Minister (David Patterson) publicly stated that he spent $150M from his maintenance budget in April 2016 and requested another $400M in the August 2016.He could not answer in the National Assembly if this was the final amount needed to cover the costs of the project nor did he provide the name of the private company. Nor could he say how many companies gave donations and how much to this private company? It is estimated that the costs when finally exposed will be close to $1 billion- for a one day event.
8) September to December 2015
President pardoned over 100 convicted felons in 2015 and stated that this would be done annually. He promised that these would be felons with non-violent crimes and juvenile offenders. In fact this was not true. A number of these persons had been sentenced for violent crimes and a number of them are back in prison.
The parliamentary Opposition questioned the criteria and process used to select these persons who were pardoned but the Speaker denied the questions being put “as an abuse of questioning”.
9) Late last year/December 2015
The RUDISA case at the CCJ and the pay out to RUDISA: The APNU and AFC twice caused the defeat in the 10th Parliament of attempts by the PPPC government to amend the Customs Act in order to pre-empt the case going to the CCJ and save the country millions of US dollars.
The APNU+AFC Coalition government settled to repay the entire amount of RUDISA (USD$16M) claim without any negotiations for a debt repayment schedule and despite the fact that the company owed and appears to still owe millions of dollars in taxes to Guyana.
The first payment was made late last year and the second budgeted for in the 2016 Budget.
10) September 2015 – April 2016
Hundreds of Millions of dollars spent by the Government and the Georgetown Mayor and City Council on the “Clean Up Campaign” in the city with no public tendering and handpicked companies. In some cases, new companies were created with no experience to facilitate this corruption. There has been no accountability of the amount of monies spent and the Mayor and Town Clerk have rebuffed efforts to allow the Auditor General’s office to do a forensic audit.
11) March/April 2016
The write off of debts owed to Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the nation by DDL worth billions of dollars (April 2016). If DDL did not issue a press release announcing the write off this would not have been known.
12) April 2016
Other writes off of debts to the GRA by other companies, who financed the APNU+AFC coalition electoral campaign, are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Minister Trotman said these companies have to be compensated for their financial investment-
13) April 2016
Following the March 18, 2016 Local Government Elections, Minister Bulkan in violation of the statutes governing the local government system, appointed the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, and the five (5) Chairpersons and vice chairperson of the five (5) NDCs in the six (6) tied LAAs. All of these persons were APNU although there was a plurality of votes in 3 of the six (6) tied LAAs for the PPP and 3 for the APNU+AFC.
14) April-May 2016
Write offs by the APNU+AFC dominated Georgetown Municipal Council to many companies for millions of dollars owed in rates and taxes for undisclosed amounts. This is a City Council that is now cash-strapped, cannot pay contractors for garbage collection and timely payment of salaries to its employees.
The cost to the Treasury of these write offs by the GRA, Georgetown Municipal Council and other Local Authority Areas alone earmarked in this list of scandals is estimated to be between 23% to 36 % of the total 2016 Budget.
15) April 2016- present
Parking meters contract – with no public tendering, no involvement of the Georgetown City Council, no consultation with the citizens – the scandal deepens, even as the APNU+AFC Georgetown Mayor is being advised to do some damage control by attempting to amend the 49-year contract and make it less embarrassing for the government.
16) July – August 2016
The three-year Pharmacy Bond contract between the Ministry of Public Health and the Linden Holding Company was not tendered for by Minister Norton’s own admission on the floor of the National Assembly. The PPP/C will be submitting its motion of privilege calling for the Speaker to send the Minister of Public Health to the Privilege Committee for wilfully misleading the National Assembly and the nation.
17) January 2016-August 2016
The GoG/BK International settlement of $1.17 B for Haggs Bosche: The Ministry of Communities’ settlement of $1.17B to BK International for the Haags Bosche project cme to light as a result of a Supplementary Financial Paper on August 8th where the country learnt that this settlement was made and would be paid in three tranches, even though the court did not award costs to BK Int’l. The government paid BK Int’l the first third of the payment in January 2016 which begs the question – where did this money come from? It was not provided for in the 2015 budget, nor was there any SFP in the interim nor in the 2016 Budget or since to cover this first payment of G$500M. The August Supplementary Financial Paper covers the payment of the second tranche of $501M to BK int’l from the Consolidated Fund. The third payment the Minister stated would be reflected in the 2017 budget. This is a scandal like the RUDISA and the DDL write offs.
Interesting and of note is that BK International is being paid the entire ten million U.S. dollars ($10M USD) for the contract though BK Int’l only worked for three of the five years of the contract at substandard work. The PPP/C government had terminated the contract due to substandard work and delays. Ministers Bulkan and Patterson, in late 2015, both publicly stated that BK Int’l had done substandard work on the project!
18) April and August 2016
Two fuel scandals relating to the issuance of fuel licenses for the importation of fuel to companies that are made up of persons related to top officials or who are top officials themselves in the government who have no fuel bonds, no storage facilities and no offices.
The withdrawal of the fuel importation license to the Chinese company which has invested millions of US dollars for storage facilities appears to have been calculated to make room for these alternative importers.
In August the second set of fuel licenses came to light regarding licenses issued to Dr. Van West Charles, CEO and other officials in GWI under a private company.
It should be noted that an applicant for a fuel license has to acquire an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and four (4) additional licences – provision of a bond under detailed specifications, transportation, storage, importation, and restrictions on where fuel storage can be located. It normally takes a long time for an applicant to obtain all these licenses—impossible to do so in nine months. The licenses were issued in the month that Van West Charles became CEO GWI and therefore he had ample time to remove himself from the company.
The media is reminded that right here at the parliamentary opposition weekly press briefing several months ago, we had exposed this gentleman’s role in soliciting donations for pipes for the wells in Region 9. As of today, the Brazilian contractors hired by GWI to dig eight (8) wells in the Rupununi region are unable to pay their workers as they allege that GWI is not paying them (the contractors).
19) August 2016
Consistent and frequent violation of the Procurement Act by line ministries — such as the Minister of Agriculture, admitted that the MOA nor the NDIA had gone out to tender for works totalling $234M due to emergency works for El Nino and flooding in regions 2,3,4, 5,6, 8, 10. In fact, these monies should have been provided for in the SPF # 2 of 2016 for the Consolidated Fund.
20) July and August 2016
Requests for information during questions to Ministers and questions during the debate on the two SFPs on August 8th revealed that the govt ministers’ will not release contracts unless they have the permission of the other person/company/party to the contract. This is unheard of and a violation of the role of the legislature under the constitution to hold the government accountable.
21) September 2016
Undermining the judicial process- the establishment of a Presidential Tribunal to inquire, investigate and recommend whether Carvil Duncan, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, should be removed from office for inability to discharge his duties.
Since the charges against Mr. Duncan are still pending before a Magistrate’s of Georgetown Court, the establishment of this tribunal is premature, pre-emptive and repugnant to the very “due process” to which the President says that his Administration is committed.
22) September 2016
Auditor General’s special audit of GECOM expenditure in 2015 prior to the general and regional elections—this is on-going, with the use of sole sourcing by the GECOM estimated to amount to $700M in the months prior to the May 2015 elections. However, unlike in other investigations where the heads were sent on administrative leave such as the Head of NICIL, Head of the NDIA, PS of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, head of the (Georgetown Public Hospital) to name a few, this CEO has not been sent off on administrative leave. 23)
23) September 2016
$240M spent on refurbishing the Kitty Market. Photographic evidence exposes the corruption by City Hall. There are no scope of works, estimates, etc, that is available and the project was not put to tender as the city has hired the workers and is implementing the works itself.
24) September 2016
The awarding of the contract for boxed juices for the school feeding programme to a Surinamese beverage company owned by RUDISA that was not the lowest or even the second lowest bid. The impact on the local farmers and manufacturers will be felt. DDL has come out publicly to criticise this, so too, has another company – Guyana Beverages.
25) September 2016
Award of the contract for quarry stone to a Surinamese company for the CJIA will have tremendous impact on the local quarries. Toolsie Persaud, one of the stone producers has protested. There is more to come to light on this issue and this we have earmarked as an emerging scandal where government needs to provide answers.
The media will observe that we have not dealt with the discriminatory dismissals of hundreds of employers in the public service and in the state entities on the basis of their ethnic and assumed political affiliation which started in June 2015 and is continuing unabated. This we shall deal with in detail at another press briefing with facts.
In summary therefore by month:-
2- May 2015
5- July/December 2015
1-September 2015 to April 2016
2- December 2015- May 2016
5- March/May 2016
5- July/August 2016
5- September 2016
These scandals which have been uncovered expose a level of corruption and discrimination that has not been seen since the Burnham era. The APN+AFC government lacks transparency and accountability, and is prepared to undermine and even violate the procurement and financial laws of this country as well as other constitutional provisions and statutory provisions.