Pervasive corruption responsible for failed Budget implementation
… “they cancel tenders every time they don’t get a particular outcome” – Jagdeo
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo believes that Government would not be able to implement 60 per cent of the 2017 Budget as it relates to its Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) – a far cry from the 90 per cent implementation rate achieved by the former Administration under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic.
Jagdeo this past week weighed in on the current budget preparations by the Finance Ministry ahead of its early presentation for a third year.
He, however, criticised the abysmal implementation rate and blamed what he called the pervasive corruption being practised by the Administration as one of the key reasons behind the failure to expend annual allocations.
Jagdeo was at the time speaking with members of the local media corps at his Church Street office.
The Russian trained economist, who served as Finance Minister and later President from 1999 to 2011, opined that the purpose of an annual Budget is to enhance the welfare of the citizenry of the country and to expand opportunity and support the creation of wealth at every level.
Based on these criteria, Jagdeo said: “This (2017) budget has failed miserably….it has done none of these things.”
According to the former President, now Opposition Leader, the lack of implementation of the 2017 Budget despite its early presentation in 2016 was just a symptom of the confusion that exist in Government.
“This charlatan understanding of how these projects work seems to permeate the entire Government at the political level and secondly, their frequent interference in tendering process,” Jagdeo posited.
Speaking to the pervasive corruption under the David Granger Administration, Jagdeo pointed to the award of contracts.
According to the Opposition Leader, when an evaluation of a tender is returned, the Administration simply retenders the project if the desired outcome is not achieved.
The former President pointed to the fact that using international loans through various funding agencies, the process can take as much as six to eight months.
Jagdeo noted that as a result of the frequent retendering of projects being funded from the treasury, the Administration has inherently and consistently delayed the utilisation of the allocated funds which at the end of the year results in woefully inadequate implementation of the Public Sector Investment Programme.
“They have cancelled every time they don’t get a particular outcome; they have cancelled to tenders,” Jagdeo said.
He cited a multibillion-dollar contract which has been repeatedly retendered for the Guyana Power and Light Inc.
Jagdeo, in seeking to further illustrate his point of favoured bidders being the preference of the Administration, pointed to the fact that of the $4.8 million spent on drugs this past year, the majority $4.4 billion went to handpicked suppliers as against using the prequalification process, which was used by the PPP/Civic Administration.
According to Jagdeo, the process of cherry picking “who you want the contracts go to,” will, and has been, adversely affecting the implementation of the PSIP.
He suggested that Government may not even achieve a 60 per cent implementation rate for the funds allocated for 2017 as against the 90 per cent implementation rate that was achieved by the PPP/C in office. “This is problematic,” Jagdeo declared.
The abysmal failure on the part of the Administration to fully execute its programmes was recently laid bare when Finance Minister Winston Jordan presented the mid-year report on national spending and revenues earned.
According to Minister Jordan in that report, “notwithstanding the historically early budget, the required shift in planning cycles at the sectoral levels failed to keep pace and, though the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) recorded higher levels of expenditure at the mid-year than at the similar period in 2016, spending was less than one-third of the budgeted allocation.”
He had announced interventions to support sectoral and project specific bottlenecks were underway, even “as we grapple with the recent spate of security breaches that has resulted in additional fiscal and other pressures”.
Jordan had promised that a combination of targeted interventions to address the sluggish pace of spending in the PSIP, coupled with prioritised sector-specific engagements with the Private Sector, is expected to result in more systemic and structural reforms that would promote diversification and green initiatives so critical to delivering the good life to all Guyanese.