By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – While there is still some confusion about where the monies from the now bankrupt PetroCaribe fund went, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has revealed that more than US$100M of that money went towards a state-owned company.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon had recently revealed that the APNU+AFC government met a blank PetroCaribe fund, which is supposed to be filled with cash, given Guyana’s lucrative rice for oil deal with neighbouring Venezuela.
The former administration – People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) – has since responded stating that all the monies can be accounted for, indicating that some of the monies went to developmental projects.
However, on Tuesday June 16, at the Enmore Martyrs commemoration ceremony, the Prime Minister revealed the amounts that were given to state agencies over the years, including the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated and the Ministry of Housing.
“We had billions of dollars in the PetroCaribe fund and we were never told that the government that was in power just a few days ago transferred US$115M to the Guyana Power and Light…transferred US$10M to the Ministry of Housing under Irfaan Ali…all along we were told that money was coming from the treasury to build the Hope Canal and we were told that US$16M was transferred from the rice fund for the canal’s construction,” the Prime Minister shockingly revealed.
In total, just over US$141 million was doled out from the PetroCaribe fund.
Given the stark realities as revealed by Nagamootoo, the government is now trying its utmost best to find monies to pay rice farmers for paddy that was sold in the last crop.
“Not only did we bring the sugar industry down but we brought rice on the brink of danger, real danger,” said Nagamootoo.
On Tuesday, the Guyana Rice Producers Association (GRPA) noted the plight currently facing the industry because of indebtedness by the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) to its contracted paddy and rice suppliers.
According to the GRPA, the payment of debts will go a long way towards alleviating severe financial hardships currently affecting the rice farmers.
“The RPA is calling on the Ministry of Finance and the APNU+AFC Coalition Government to immediately honour their obligation and make the payments long over-due in order to avoid dire consequences to this vital, national export industry,” the statement noted.