Corruption on stilts…

…in Government procurement
This PNC-led coalition came into office on the wings of gusts of hot air they spouted about corruption in the PPP Government’s procurement process. The then uncoalesced AFC even claimed it would vote with the PPP on Amaila Falls Hydro, and anti-money laundering legislation, etc, if the PPP would make their nominations to Public Procurement Commission (PPC)!! Well, it took almost two years for the PNC/AFC to make their own appointments, which would remove the “no-objection” role for Cabinet, for which the PPP was pilloried!!
In that time, of course, we had the infamous D’Urban “Wood Ants” Stadium, the “Bottom House” warehouse, and the $650 million Pharma scams – just to name a few mega ones!! But while the PNC/AFC eventually got the PPC going, their subsequent actions illustrated the aphorism: “there are many ways to skin a cat”! While the PPC can “take notice” of violations of the Procurement Act, it basically depends of complaints to make investigations. Like when the MPI sole-sourced a $143 million contract for the new Demerara Harbour Bridge – which it subsequently had to discard so that the money was basically pi55ed away! – and they didn’t even make a squeak!! Is a contract corrupt when no competitor knows??
Which leads us to the latest gambit of the PNC/AFC to game the procurement process to ensure “the insiders” make a killing. With elections in the air, the PNC/AFC Government has tabled a Bill to astronomically raise the value of “restricted contracts” – which means they don’t have to be advertised. And if they aren’t advertised, then they can be handed out to the favoured “insiders” with no one the wiser to complain to the PPC. No advertising, not incidentally, lowers competition and increases quoted prices!!
And were not talking about peanuts: in construction the threshold has been hiked from $10 million to $20 million; for goods and services from $3 million to $10 million and “request for quotation” from $1.5 million to $3 million!!!  What this means, if this Bill is passed, imagine the campaign “donations” that will have to be passed – not to forget the patronage support, in the PNC/AFC constituency. And we’ve got to note that these thresholds were already bumped upwards by the PNC/AFC!!
But there’s another angle to this sordid manoeuvre: introducing legislation that will have a significant impact on the country’s finances in a period when the High Court had ruled that the status quo of the Executive has changed after the NCM.
Alarmingly, this gaming of the procurement process comes at a time of heightened tensions internally by a Government living on stolen time and externally being monitored by the international community.
The PNC/AFC seems determined to have Guyana become another Venezuela!!

Guyanese knew something was rotten in the staffing of the Guyana Elections Commission. Right after independence, PNC rep Desmond Hoyte on the Commission then jigged the rules for National Registration from which the voters’ list would be extracted. The Compliant Chairman – both ex-Chief Justices – made it necessary in 1992 to insist that there were “fit and proper persons” for the job, outside of Judges!! The complaint staff was left intact!
They worked in the innards of the secretariat, and could ensure outcomes by judicious interventions or non-interventions – if the chair wasn’t vigilant. So imagine a partisan secretariat combined with a partisan Chairman!! The mind boggles at the pregnant possibilities for “interventions and non-interventions”!!
Well, it’s been six months since the PPP filed an official complaint to the ERC about bias in hiring practices at GECOM to favour the PNC. So why aren’t we surprised that while a lot of throats were cleared, no investigation was launched!!
Just as Granger’s tossing of Jagdeo’s constitutionally-mandated lists of nominees for the chair, out the window, is now moot!!

…in spirits
The GRA just busted the efforts of some public-spirited citizens – who heeded the call to “liven up our Mash spirits” – by seizing a whole container of “duty free” Johnny Walker Red, Black, Blue and Platinum!!
Back to cheap rum!! Drats!!