It is mind boggling that the Western Hemisphere’s most disgraced political parties ever, the APNU and the AFC, would now have the effrontery and temerity to condemn the selection of the PPP/C Ministers of Government. I will not give them any credence by restating what they have asininely declared in a statement on the issue, since that is unadulterated garbage.
Throughout the Coalition’s tenure in Government, they raped the Treasury, stole from the taxpayers, depleted our reserves, gave away our lands, sold our oil patrimony for peanuts, enriched their cronies and families, overrode our procurement laws, violated our Constitution and the Rule of Law, and barefacedly attempted to rig the 2020 Elections in the most disgraceful manner in full view of the world; yet, they have a problem with the PPP/C’s Cabinet appointees.
Let me just use two examples. If Guyanese thought that the Durban Park corruption was the crème de la crème of the Coalition’s corruption, wherein more than $600 million dollars are yet to be accounted for, then we are sadly mistaken. The Ocean View COVID-19 Hospital makes this fall into a far second place.
In April, 2020, the Coalition announced that they would ‘retrofit’ the old Ocean View International Hotel into a state-of-the-art COVID-19 facility. It was estimated to cost approximately $1 billion, and was to be a facility for the incubation, isolation and quarantine of 300 COVID-19 patients. At that time, it was questioned why billions of dollars were to be spent to transform an old, flood-prone building, as opposed to a readily available facility, but the answer was that, given the short timeline and the gravity of the situation, work had to start immediately.
PAHO/WHO had predicted that cases would reach 20,000 by early May next year, but it would seem that the haste had more to do with siphoning off funds before a change of Government, and to patronise yet another one of their cronies.
The awarding of the contracts is another high-profile corruption issue, but suffice to say that the works had already started on the facility, even before the tenders were approved by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board. This is in complete violation of our procurement laws, and the contractors were paid more than 60% of the cost even before works had started.
Construction began in April, and the contracts were awarded in June, even as the source of funding remained obscure. The contract and other documents were deemed to be ‘secret’, which reminds of the 007 movie ‘For Your Eyes Only’.
It is now revealed that the owner of the hotel, Wilfred Rambarran, an associate of the APNU/AFC, is claiming that he was never paid for the property, worth $2.7 billion, even though the Coalition Government had issued a Notice of Compulsory Acquisition. In addition, he is claiming a rental of $13 million per month.
It is now also revealed that the humongous sum of $1.6 billion was expended on the facility, which according to Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony, is just a ‘shell’. There are neither beds nor medical equipment, not even a ventilator, and the building was not ‘retrofitted’, since the walls have to be adjusted further to house oxygen tanks.
It is now apparent that $1.6 billion was expensed to do cosmetic surgery on the building, to ‘nice it up’ a bit to steal the money, just like the Durban Park project. I am positive that a forensic audit would provide evidence of this. I agree completely with Attorney General Mr Nandlall that, after this investigation, criminal charges should be instituted.
Imagine how low the Coalition Government stooped to be using the COVID-19 pandemic to rob the same people they claim they want to protect from the virus, and they have the audacity to speak ill of a one-day-old PPP/C Government, which will have to clean up their filth. The Coalition have no moral standing to label anyone. All the negative labels have already been awarded to them.
It is a fact that the Coalition pandemic, which began in 2015, is far worse than the COVID-19, and have destroyed more lives. I have listened to Dr Anthony, and have concluded that this man is the answer to the COVID-19; and I have listened to all the members of the PPP/C Government: President Ali, Vice-President Jagdeo, Prime Minister Phillips, and all the Ministers, and I am sure that the Guyanese nation is convinced now more than ever before that their lives and livelihoods are now in better hands. Guyanese are breathing freely once again!