Leader of the Political Opposition Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has called out the Finance Minister Winston Jordan over his most recent remarks where he said the economy during the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) tenure was heavily based on proceeds of the drug trade.
Jagdeo, during a press briefing on Wednesday, also thanked the Private Sector Commission (PSC) for taking up the Minister on his comments, knowing the damage that such remarks could have on investors confidence, particularly where collaborations are concerned.
Dubbing Jordan’s remarks as just another excuse for Government’s poor performance, the Opposition Leader said that it was expected, especially since it is the political season that leads to the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE).
But the former President noted that the Minister’s statement is baseless as he questioned why has the government not been able to charge a single a single money launderer for drug trafficking or illegal proceeds?
On the other hand, he said that while the State Assets and Recovery Agency (SARA) is mandated to go after money launderers and other white collar criminals, they have not managed to do so.
Instead, Jagdeo, referring to himself and his former Cabinet Ministers, said they are being directed to go after the political opposition.
The PSC said recently it has taken note of the statement by Minister Jordan on the impact of the proceeds of drugs on the economy.
The Private Sector body said in an effort to understand the “empirical evidence” relied upon by the Minister, the Commission said it has sought to obtain a briefing by the Minister and, to that end, they have dispatched a letter to the Minister seeking an audience with him.
In the letter that was made public to the media, the PSC said it would be “grateful to be briefed by you on the assertions made that the economy pre May 2015 was heavily based on proceeds of the drug trade and that the current economy post May 2015 is no longer affected by such proceeds.”
Moreover, the Commission said “as businesses it is important for us to understand the underlying structure of the economy and the various elements that contribute or inhibit its growth.”
Outlining that it was awaiting a response, the PSC in its letter to the subject Minister posited that “we look forward to such a brief so that we could better understand the empirical evidence supporting your assertions.”
In response to this, Jagdeo said he was pleased the that the PSC is seeking such information, even though he is of the firm view that the Minister would not be able to give such an explanation because he has no such evidence.
“The buoyancy of the economy had to do with several things, a growing set of economic activities, a growing tax base, larger deposits and more people borrowing and investing. All of that led to the buoyancy we saw. The conserve ills we are seeing now…bad loans, new no investments,” Jagdeo said.