More Scan­dals, Crony­ism, Cor­rup­tion and Con­fu­sion in the Coali­tion

Weekend Mirror - - GETTING IT RIGHT -

Guyana

en­tered the New Year em­broiled in protests and rev­e­la­tions of more scan­dals and ex­ec­u­tive law­less­ness. The protests are gain­ing in num­ber and all seem to be large or “mass” in na­ture. That is to say they at­tracted con­sid­er­able num­bers of peace­ful but ag­i­tated citizens. The early Jan­uary peace­ful protests have at­tracted from 50 to as much as 220 per­sons. The ge­o­graphic spread, too, is also of in­ter­est - in Re­gion 10 and Re­gion 5. The protests are man­i­fes­ta­tions of the push back of the poor and pow­er­less against the ex­plod­ing blun­ders of the APNU+AFC Ad­min­is­tra­tion and its im­po­si­tion of ar­bi­trary in­ter­ven­tions and its dis­re­gard for the rule of law. Two ma­jor “mass” protests were in full swing last week.

Two “protests” stand out - firstly the West Ber­bice Farm­ers’ pick­et­ing of the Ma­haica-Ma­haicony-Abary Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (MMA/ADA) over its re­cent in­creases in land rentals. And se­condly, the peace­ful gath­er­ing of res­i­dents from five Com­mu­ni­ties in the area of the Lin­den/ Kwak­wani Road junc­tion sup­ported by dozens of aggrieved mo­tor ve­hi­cle driv­ers to protest the gross ne­glect of the road serv­ing these com­mu­ni­ties. Note­wor­thy is the vast dif­fer­ence in ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tions and back­grounds of the pro­tes­tors and the na­tures of their com­plaints. Note, too, the un­re­spon­sive­ness of the Au­thor­i­ties.

At the same time the emerg­ing scan­dal sur­round­ing the Gov­ern­ment’s se­cret deal with a Trinidad firm for the pos­si­ble takeover of the lu­cra­tive GUYSUCO Skel­don Sugar Es­tate is gen­er­at­ing more dis­quiet and con­cern in wide cross-sec­tions of the pop­u­la­tion. And as if this was not enough dis­turb­ing rev­e­la­tion in the very first few weeks of the New Year, more was to fol­low in quick fash­ion. It is now pub­lic knowl­edge that a law­suit has been filed by Banks (DIH) against the Guyana Rev­enue Au­thor­ity, (GRA) for some 28.5 bil­lion worth of con­sump­tion taxes and in­ter­est which the com­pany says it over­paid to the tax body due to a le­gal er­ror. The bev­er­age com­pany is claim­ing the sum as a re­fund for the pe­riod of 2001 to 2007.

Peo­ple Pro­gres­sive Party/Civic Gen­eral Sec­re­tary, Bhar­rat Jagdeo, had pre­dicted this even­tu­al­ity sev­eral months ago. The trained econ­o­mists had im­me­di­ately com­mented com­pre­hen­sively on the is­sue when the PNC/ APNU+AFC ad­min­is­tra­tion had first re­vealed that it had given a sim­i­lar waiver to an­other lo­cal bev­er­age com­pany -- DDL. The Gen­eral Sec­re­tary had stated so many months ago that the APNU/ AFC Gov­ern­ment was set­ting a bad prece­dent by set­tling a court mat­ter with DDL. The Op­po­si­tion Leader opined that the Banks DIH court ac­tion now emerg­ing vin­di­cates his stance on the mat­ter.

The un­fold­ing con­tro­ver­sial, ar­bi­trary and non-trans­par­ent City Hall Park­ing Me­ter project re­in­forces this per­cep­tion of wide­spread dis­quiet and con­cern. The non-con­sul­ta­tive and ar­bi­trary ap­proach of the APNU-dom­i­nated City Coun­cil has in the past few days gen­er­ated con­cerns, out­rage and protest from yet two more sub-sec­tions of our pop­u­la­tion - the the Guyana Teach­ers’ Union and the As­so­ci­a­tion of Dis­abled Per­sons.

More im­por­tantly, this per­cep­tion is fur­ther re­in­forced by the more re­cent at­tempt by APNU+AFC Ad­min­is­tra­tion to rig GE­COM by un­der­min­ing Ar­ti­cle 161.2 of the Guyana Con­sti­tu­tion which speaks to the elec­tion of a Chair­man for the Com­mis­sion.

But the lat­est in­sult to Guyanese is the move by Pres­i­dent Granger to dis­re­gard the list of can­di­dates for the post of Chair­man of the Guyana Elec­tions Com­mis­sion submitted by the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion as is de­manded by the Con­sti­tu­tion as a “con­sen­sus mech­a­nism”.

The fear is that Granger is set­ting the stage for the uni­lat­eral, ar­bi­trary and un­law­ful se­lec­tion of a bi­ased Chair­man of the Elec­tions Com­mis­sion as a first step in rig­ging the 2020 Gen­eral Elec­tions as in the Burn­ham pe­riod. Wide sec­tions of the pop­u­lace, even some sup­port­ive of the ad­min­is­tra­tion, are ap­pre­hen­sive and shud­der at the thought of Guyana go­ing back to the dark Burn­ham days. The clouds of more protest storms are gath­er­ing. This will in­deed be a stormy year.

The two mass protests of the very first weeks of 2017, and the DDL scan­dal are rollovers from the past year. The mood and mode of dis­quiet and un­ease seem to be the emerg­ing fea­ture which will char­ac­ter­ize our so­cio-po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment for 2017.

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