It is beyond embarrassing. I am reading that, “In two years, GWI spent $103M on overseas travel and food.” The former boss, Dr Van West- Charles, explains that “…it was for studies and overtime meals.”
On one level, this kind of wanton waste speaks of corruption, and to flippantly state that the purpose was for food and studies is to display a high level of arrogance and naivete.
As expected, by August 2020 GWI was on the verge of collapse, and one of the reasons for this was the “reckless spending” that characterised GWI during the tenure of the APNU+AFC (A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change).
When I go through the list of spending, it is most immoral in nature: In 2018, $26.8M was spent for overseas travel; In 2019, $26M for overseas travel; In 2019, $50M in meals, and ‘enough is enough.’ I think that the atmosphere at GWI, under Van West-Charles was one of happy travelling and eating.
Let us remember that GWI was essentially cash-strapped to the point where it could not pay its electricity bill for a year, and had owed Guyana Power and Light (GPL) some $7B for the period 2018 to 2020. If on hand we had wanton waste, on the other side it was a classic example of not knowing how to prioritise.
I really hope there is a legal way of calling to account those responsible for the financial mess that GWI was left in, which it is now trying so hard to disentangle itself from.
This GWI fiasco makes me recall what transpired with an APNU/AFC supporter who was paid $500,000 separately for a Director of Parks position, even though the man was out of Guyana. He also was the one who spearheaded the controversial park project, and claimed that he was also the President and Secretary of a defunct Florida-registered company that was paid to print birth certificates.
Usually, it was local printers who produced Guyanese birth certificates. So, when the former Government had moved away from this long-standing practice, a bad smell was detected, and that led to a whole lot of unsavoury discoveries.
I have my doubts regarding whether many of these improprieties would ever be fully dealt with. But for now, the GWI is being cleaned up, and when surplus employees are sent home, I hope the supporters of APNU/AFC will not cry foul.