The more we learn about the previous David Granger-led APNU+AFC Government, the more we know what brazen means. Webster’s Dictionary cannot explain brazen the way APNU+AFC exemplifies brazen. Minister of Governance revealed in Parliament on Monday that APNU+AFC gave a $30M contract to a man named Larry London to print 20,000 birth certificates. London owned a non-functioning business in Miami that never printed anything, but he got the contract. It turned out that this same man was also getting a basic salary of $500,000 per month, plus allowances and perks worth much more, for being the Director of Parks in Guyana, while he was living abroad.
While living abroad, he was also Chairman of the Guyana Civil Aviation Agency. This is the same fella who was part of the Durban Park $1.6B fiasco, a scandal that ranks as one of the most brazen heists of Guyanese taxpayers’ money. He was also an executive member of the PNC.
This is brazen PNC-style.
Money, money everywhere, but not a cent to buy a COVID-19 testing machine.
This week we finally caught up with the backlog that caused people to wait for sometimes more than two weeks for their COVID-19 results. The wait was because Guyana’s capacity for conducting COVID-19 testing was severely limited. The previous APNU+AFC Government had not made any provision for COVID-19 testing. The PCR machine that was in use for COVID-19 testing was from more than ten years ago.
I was Minister of Health when we built the National Public Health Reference Laboratory, the first National Public Health Lab in the Caribbean. But there were two other PCR machines in the country that could not be used, because these machines could not be operated without biohazard cabinets. These biohazard cabinets are not rocket science stuff, yet the Government made no move to operationalise these items of PCR equipment.
The new PPP Government has moved for these machines, to put them into operation, and a better, fully automated PCR equipment is presently on the way to Guyana. When this PCR machine becomes operational, Guyana would reach a capacity of 2,000 COVID-19 tests per day.
The truth is that we had needed to have that capacity since March; and if we had had that capacity, we would not have been in the COVID-19 mess we are in right now. The Government pursued a brazen path: instead of spending a small amount of money quickly in building up Guyana’s COVID-19 testing capacity, they decided to rehabilitate a building they did not own – the old, abandoned Ocean View Hotel. They spent $1.6B to rehabilitate the building, and had the audacity to have David Granger commission the building when they were still trying to thief the elections. He had lost the elections, and was no longer the President, but he brazenly went and commissioned a building that was empty. They called it the National Infectious Disease Hospital. There was not a single bed. There was not a single thermometer. There was not even a chair in the building, but they called it the National Infectious Disease Hospital. They did not own the building, and a man, one of their friends, decided to bill the Government $25M a month for rental. He also offered to sell the building to the new Government for $1.6B.
The temerity of these people! Talk about being brazen!
There was the case of Carol Joseph being paid hundreds of thousands per month as a Petroleum Consultant. I am not certain who was more brazen: The Government, for daring to use taxpayers’ money to pay someone as a petroleum consultant who perhaps could not spell the word; or Ms. Joseph, for her own brazenness in taking the money every month. But these examples represent just the tip of the iceberg.
Dr. Clive Thomas and his Deputy took home more than $100M in salary and benefits between 2015 and 2020. They headed an agency that spent more than $1B, in that time, in salary and other expenses. This is how brazen they were: the outfit was called SARA – State Assets Recovery Agency – but that agency bilked Guyana; not a cent was recovered. In fact, when they did go after any asset, it cost Guyana more money. They went after GBTI for the land on which GBTI built an office. Guyana now must pay GBTI almost $5M in cost. It is sheer brazenness.
But I must reserve my astonishment for the way they are still treating the courts. Mr. Lampy, who is now Mr. Whip in Parliament, took millions from the Government on false information to start a barbershop. He stored the equipment in his house. The Police came; he refused them entry. Eventually they got in, and found the equipment. He was caught red-handed. He was charged. He wants the DPP to throw out the charges.
Volda Lawrence and Clairmont Mingo were caught red-handed trying to rig the election results. In broad daylight, in front of the world, they tried to thief an election. They were charged. They want the DPP to throw out the charges. Webster should have been alive today to see what brazen really means.