While the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government is railroading democratic norms, trying desperately to disregard the valid no-confidence motion, they are continuing reckless mismanagement and corruption. Just so that we do not get completely blindsided by the Government’s shenanigan and determination to illegally hold on to power, there are still big worries about sinister motives involving; first, the ExxonMobil US$18 million (GY$3.6 billion) bonus Guyana received and, second, the US$150 million (GY$30 billion) loan that the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) took ostensibly for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
Two years after the ExxonMobil money was deposited into a secret Bank of Guyana account, no one today can say definitively where that money is. The ExxonMobil bonus money is now not in the Bank of Guyana. The Finance Minister told Guyana sometime back that the money is somewhere in an unknown overseas bank, but other Ministers have said different things. One Minister said the money was used to pay lawyers defending our interests against Venezuela, even as they are asking for money in the 2018 and now the 2019 Budget for this purpose. Another Minister has a story different from these Ministers. Why the secret? This is not mere political malfeasance, there is suspicion of abuse.
More than a year since NICIL took a loan at 4.5 per cent supposedly to invest in creating a more efficient GuySuCo, we do not really know anything much about the money. GuySuCo has been very explicit they have not received the money. Under pressure, NICIL released about $1.5 billion to GuySuCo which used it to meet wage commitments, but the rest of more than $28 billion is now a mystery. Meanwhile, NICIL will soon pay $1.4 billion in interest on the loan and we know they paid about $2 billion to arrange the loan. But what are they doing with the rest of the money? No wonder there is conflict between the Special Purpose Unit (SPU)/NICIL and GuySuCo – a conflict simmering and boiling over, as APNU/AFC seem not to care and is totally silent. Why the mystery around this $30 billion loan?
It is brazen mismanagement and incompetence like the aforementioned and the suspicion of corruption and abuse of State resources that caused people to lose confidence in APNU/AFC. The overwhelming feeling that APNU/AFC is clueless, but also incompetent and corrupt caused APNU/AFC to lose the No-confidence Motion in Parliament on December 21, 2018. APNU/AFC, in accordance with the Constitution, is now on a timeline to hold elections by March 21, 2019. However, APNU/AFC is presently engaged in a brazen, shameful game of deceit and buffoonery designed to sidestep the law and to hijack Guyana’s democracy. Just as its parent body, the People’s National Congress (PNC) did between 1964 and 1992 with rigged elections, the present APNU/AFC is trying to deny the will of the people. The truth is the Local Government Elections results in which the People’s Progressive Party secured 63 per cent of the votes and close to 70 per cent of the local government seats is reflective of the overwhelming loss of confidence among the people.
While Bharrat Jagdeo and his colleagues did a brilliant job explaining why APNU/AFC have totally lost the confidence of the people and why elections must be held now, there are persistent and explicit reminders everywhere. Last Friday, as most of the nation prepared for the New Year’s Eve festivities, sugar workers at Albion Estate were not paid their weekly wages. Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, performing the functions of President, had ample time engaging in “jumbie” Mathematics, desperately trying to justify that 33 is not more than 32 and, therefore, cannot be majority in a 65-seat Parliament, but he was silent, not even a moment to, at least, sympathise with the workers. As he has during all the travails of the sugar workers since May 2015, he is still silent.
APNU/AFC has been tone-deaf, arrogant, and unable to hear the cries of the people. They have been insensitive to the woes that families encounter on a daily basis, as there are fewer jobs available, more than 30,000 people losing their jobs, cost of living skyrocketing, people increasingly unable to pay bank loans, businesses closing, crime spiralling out of control etc. With increasing frustration among the citizens everywhere, the Government’s posture and attitude have become more and more distant and disconnected from the people. Thus, when the rice farmers in Essequibo protested non-payment by millers for paddy sold to them since early in the year, the Government was missing in action (MIA). It is the myriad of such travesties that caused people to lose all confidence in the APNU/AFC Government. Now they must subject themselves to the will of the people.