22 August 2017
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Saturday, 11 June 2016 17:45

No transparency in gov’t spending

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On a weekly basis, the David Granger Cabinet continues to dole out billions of tax-payers’ dollars towards contracts for government works, contrary to elections promises that it would stop the practice of Cabinet’s involvement in the procurement process. 

 

The AFC and APNU, when in opposition, had severely criticized the PPP/C administration for giving “no objections” to government contracts. The then government emphasized the need for Cabinet’s oversight functions since contracts were part of implementation of the national budget. The PPP/C said that the Cabinet was in no way involved in the award of contracts; it was merely giving a “no objection” after the tender board, in a very transparent manner, had completed the legal requirements of the tender process. 

This explanation was not accepted by the then APNU/ AFC opposition which and insinuated that there was corrup­tion involved in the award of contracts. 

Since taking office, the APNU/AFC coalition has been shamelessly giving “no objections” and has refused to heed public criticisms, including from supporters, as regards the lack of transparency in government procurement of goods and services. Several large contracts, including those related to the preparations of the 50th Independence celebrations, have been handed down without any adherence to public procurement procedures. 

A glaring example has been the award of several forensic audits worth hundreds of millions without public tendering. These have been handed to known supporters of the coalition and critics of the PPP/C government. 

Additionally, the then APNU/AFC opposition had been grumbling about the absence of the non-establishment of the Public Procurement Commission and advanced the argument that this was a cure-all for corruption in government. After one year in government, the Granger-led Coalition has not established the Commission as it promised it would do during the 2915 elections campaign. 

Government has also been spending lavishly on running the establishment, especially on overseas travels and per­quisites associated with such overseas excursions. Cabinet members have been involved in excessive spending and evident Cadillac-style living as was exposed by costs associ­ated accommodating the Prime Minister in refurbishing the official residence and vehicles. Cabinet members now receive far more than those under the PPP/C government. Also, there are many more Cabinet members and Ministries. 

Upon assuming office in May last year, the Coalition claimed the PPP/C had left an empty treasury but the govern­ment’s subsequent big spending and huge national budgets have proven that this claim was merely a fig-leaf. In spite of that, the government levied a new range of taxes on Guyanese that have left them with less spending power. This came on the heels of the Coalition’s removal of several initiatives of the PPP/C government to assist low income families and pensioners. These included the subsidies on water and elec­tricity to pensions and the $10,000 assistance to parents with children in schools. 

The high-handedness of the regime is evident in every sphere of life and the opposition PPP and many observers have detected persuasive signals of racial and political vic­timization. The government’s refusal to deal with severe hardships being faced by sugar workers and rice farmers especially, are cases in point. 

At the same time, the Coalition has not been able to put to the nation any viable and comprehensive social and economic plan for the future development of the country. The private sector has highlighted this issue only recently as a major shortcoming of the present government. 

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