Implications of the corruption charges against Singh, Brassington

Dear Editor,
Please allow me space to expound on the ramifications of the recent charges brought by SOCU against Messrs Ashni Singh and Winston Brassington for purported ‘misconduct in public office, contrary to public law’. The basis of the charges call every single Government decision since Independence into question. I aim to show clearly by using dubious ‘real estate’ values as the sole basis for land distribution value, SOCU and its United Kingdom adviser Dr. Sittlington have implicated every Government official ever involved in any transaction since 1966.
Governments are not real estate sales offices, the value of land is not calculated solely on square footage. A Government must consider the benefits that accrue through sale or lease of land for whatever purpose: job creation, health benefits, economic activity, infrastructural development et al. The example most often cited in support of this type of land distribution is the United States Land grants to the railroad companies between1860 and 1900. “Building a railroad was an expensive venture. Private Banks, fearing the railroad companies would need a long time to pay off their debts, were reluctant to loan money to the companies. To remedy the situation, Congress provided assistance to the railroad companies in the form of land grants. The land grant railroads, receiving millions of acres of public land, sold the land to make money, built their railroads, and contributed to a more rapid settlement of the West. In the end, four out of the five transcontinental railroads were built with help from the federal government.” By SOCU definitions, this is an example of great corruption. I have no doubt Dr. Sam Sittlington has no idea of what Guyana’s economic position was during the post PNC years; having arrived post PPP, he must have assumed that Guyana was always economically stable and attractive to investors. Someone needs to educate the good doctor. SOCU has a mandate to find corruption; it needs to do just that, not engage in ‘political misconduct’, SOCU must build cases based on provable malfeasance, not wishful thinking.
Editor, the further issue is that the institution of these charges by SOCU and the private charges laid by Anil Nandlall have created an atmosphere of uncertainty and doubt of the ability of any Government of Guyana to do business of any kind in any manner. The land deals referred to in the charges went out to public tender, is value not actually ascribed in what the top bidder is willing to pay? For someone to suggest that five acres of cow pasture in rural Georgetown is worth seventy-two million, three hundred and forty thousand dollars per acre is patently outlandish. I would be curious to know on what basis the Rodrigues & Associates valuation was made, on square footage or per kilogram? Could the present Administration be able to find anyone willing to pay this price even post-oil discovery? How can any investor now proceed with any business in a country that has a perpetually retroactive review as law? SOCU has made it impossible to invest in Guyana with any confidence. Should we be seeking the blessings of Her Majesty’s Government to ensure future decisions are ‘proper conduct’? Wither Independence?
The People of Guyana are not amused by the actions of Government and Opposition. We know they have both gone far and above to provide representation in the House of Assembly of all Guyanese, from the intelligent to the downright ignorant. We have looked on with disgust as debates over important aspects of our governance have been waylaid by behaviour best left in fish markets, but we cannot continue to be silent as this new phase of charge and counter-charge is played out in the courtrooms and all media formats.
Administration and Opposition need to start immediate dialogue and get us out of this quagmire in which the slippery slope of politically motivated charges has entrapped us. Country before Party must become the ethos for all.
Our future depends on growth and development based on investment. For guidance, I offer the words of one of the Founding Fathers of The United States of America: “Capital is wayward and timid in lending itself to new undertakings, and the State ought to excite the confidence of capitalists, who are ever cautious and sagacious, by aiding them overcome the obstacles that lie in the way of all experiments.”… Alexander Hamilton (Chalmers Johnson, ‘’Introduction: The Idea of Industrial Policy,” in C. Johnson, ed., The Industrial Policy Debate (San Francisco, ICS Press, 1984), p. 17.)

Robin Singh