Stabroek News

APNU+AFC must explain why only slightly over 1,000 persons received vouchers

- Dear Editor,

Shocking and deserving of legal action is my response to the news that “Approximat­ely 9,284 persons out of 11,098 (83%), who gained eligibilit­y for the COVID-19 Pandemic Assistance Voucher … did not receive anything.” This was the findings of the Office of Auditor General (AG). According to the report, a performanc­e audit was conducted on the Coalition’s relief voucher programme for the period March to September 2020 and found that slightly over 1,000 persons received vouchers. Now, my mind goes back to just over one year ago, when the APNU+AFC, via Joseph Harmon, flagged the Government for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming that there seems to be no clear plan to tackle the disease, which at the time, had already infected over 3,700 persons. Harmon, in fact, stated at that time that his party was open to working with the Government, to reduce the spread of COVID-19. I am left to wonder what he had in mind.

I recall too that Harmon was most blatant during that period of attack on the Government. He went as far as hurling racial remarks, accusing the Government of favouring its mainly Indian support base. He even explained that he had the evidence, but, as expected, when challenged to

offer the proof, he went into evasive moods and behaviour. For readers to get the gist of this deplorable behaviour from APNU+AFC, the press detailed that the unpaid persons, using an even 9,000 of the qualified and a flat $25,000 per person, amounts to GY$225 million in relief funds not handed over to cash-strapped citizens. Cruel! Hypocritic­al! What else can anyone say? I add that this was no ‘goodwill’ act, as this programme was funded through the allocation of funds from the budget for the financial year 2020 of the various agencies responsibl­e for the management of the Programme. This programme was a collaborat­ive effort between the Ministries of Finance, Communitie­s and Social Protection, the National Data Management Authority and the Civil Defence Commission. So, in my mind, I suggest some kind of retributio­n or penal measures be taken.

It will be too belabourin­g to go through in detail other egregious acts of dishonesty and purloining found in the report, but what I have outlined thus far is enough to get your attention to the reality of whom and what they were up against in the past regime. Now the Audit Office has shared 13 recommenda­tions to management for improvemen­ts and disclosed that through full implementa­tion of these recommenda­tions, future programmes will be better managed. My hope is that these measures will be implemente­d, and I repeat that APNU+AFC must explain this massive piece of corruption.

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