PSC wants “empirical evidence” from Minister Jordan on “proceeds of the drug trade”

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Finance Minister Winston Jordan

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) says it has taken note of the recent statement by Minister of Finance Winston Jordan on the impact of the proceeds of drugs on the economy and in an effort to understand the “empirical evidence” relied upon by the Minister, the Commission said it has sought to obtain a briefing by him and, to this end, has dispatched a letter to the Minister.

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 that “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.”

Jordan, since his Government came to power in 2015, has made outlandish accusations, without proof, that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Administration before him was able to reflect growth in the economy because it proliferated the trade of drugs.

In a interview in 2016, the Finance Minister attributed the reduction in consumer spending to a decrease in illegal activities, including narco-trafficking, which he said had created a parallel economy.

From left: newly appointed PSC Secretary Komal Singh, Vice-Chairman Deodat Indar, Chairman Desmond Sears and Treasurer Zulfikar Ali

Most recently in a response to an editorial done by one of the leading dailies that waded into Minister Jordan’s handling of the financial sector, Jordan retorted, inter alia, “you must have forgotten, conveniently, the deformed and broken economy that our government inherited in 2015. Lest we forget, too, that economy thrived on rampant drug trafficking, money laundering, and a banking sector in which a few institutions recklessly lent funds for private white elephant projects.”

In July of this year an article was published in the state owned Department of Public Information (DPI), where the State Assets Recovery Agency’s (SARA) Chief Executive Officer, Aubrey Heath-Retemyer is recorded saying that the SARA is working tirelessly with the Ministry of Legal Affairs to retrieve over $200B in state assets lost through corruption between 2010 to 2014.

 “We have been losing between $28B and $35B every year between 2010 and 2014 by procurement fraud, in illicit capital flights-$90 billion and in the underground economy (drugs) – about $100 billion,” the SARA Chief had said.

However, the PPP has on multiple occasions called out the incumbent APNU/AFC Administration for peddling what it said was “blatant lies” in a attempt to justify their “mismanagement” of the economy.

Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira

Earlier this year, the Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Texiera had also questioned SARA Director, Professor Clive Thomas about the allegations that $28-35 billion was lost each year in procurement fraud and another $306-313 billion per year being lost due to corruption under successive PPP/C Administrations.

“Strange to say, these are the same figures you used prior to the 2015 elections. Are you, sir, the complainant? And where is your evidence? If you declared such losses were real and then used your position in the SARU/SARA without evidence and mere mathematical speculation, then this is a case of reckless irresponsibility of enormous proportions,” Teixeira had posited.

She further noted that such disinformation fed to the Guyanese electorate for several years leading up to the 2015 elections, as well as friendly Governments and international organisations, has been clearly exposed as a “concerted political campaign to get the PPP/C out of office”.

Further, Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, had posited that if the allegations had any merit, then he is certain the SARA would have had someone charged by now.

“…imagine by now, somebody needs to ask Retemyer…if so much money was stolen why is it is that you can’t charge someone up to now for $1M of the $35B that was stolen per year…They’re working on people’s minds. This is how APNU works” he noted.

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