The commentary provided by Mr Tacuma Ogunseye in another section of the media dated February 28, 2016, was filled with personal attacks and insinuations targeting me. Accusing me of being dishonest, wicked, politically abusive and having double standards, such is the general tone of Tacuma’s letter. I know Tacuma is made of better stuff. However, being exposed to and receiving objective criticism or otherwise is par for the course and its effect on me is like water on duck’s back or having to brush some dirt off my shoulder.
The opportunity cost of performing the forensic audits may have been higher than the fees received for the forensic audits. My firm utilised the services of five chartered and/or public accountants during the forensic audits that led to the high opportunity costs, relative to the fees received.
Aside from the personal attacks, Tacuma’s observation that I was supportive of several positions taken by the PPP is wholly accurate on the first three positions referenced by Mr Ogunseye re: GuySuCo, SARA Bill, and Pradoville Two. The other issues mentioned by Tacuma, including my views on the forensic audits, the economy and capital flight are contextualised herein.
Junior Minister of Finance, Mr Jaipaul Sharma was quoted as saying in the media, on August 18, 2015, “the audits are essentially stocktaking exercises” and recently Vice President, Mr Khemraj Ramjattan said at a press conference that the primary purpose of the forensic audits was to see what the PPP was doing wrong, so as “a stock taking”. Another article, in another section of the media dated February 25, 2017, stated that “Khemraj Ramjattan, himself, has been quoted in the press only last month as saying that the forensic audits were merely a stock taking excise”. My views on the forensic audits are like those referenced by both Ministers, in addition to disciplinary action – where warranted, and prosecution in clear cases of theft and embezzlement.
What I am against is the use of the forensic audits for witch hunting, persecution and political vendettas. I conveyed my opinion by text to Minister of State, Mr Joseph Harmon on November 2, 2016, and included in the text that the forensic audits are being used for witch hunting, persecution, and political vendettas and a similar text was sent to the Opposition Leader, Mr Bharrat Jagdeo on November 1, 2016.
Whether the gentlemen have seen or read the correspondence is unknown to me, as neither of them responded. Also, I verbally conveyed the same information in December of 2016 to Minister Sharma, when I told him that the forensic audits should not be used for witch hunting, persecution or political vendettas.
The challenges facing Guyana’s economy and the issue of foreign currency shortage are “elementary” my dear Ogunseye. The loss of the Venezuelan rice market in 2015 was a major blow to our economy, with tidal effects on the availability of foreign currency. Venezuela also cut Guyana out of the PetroCaribe fuel supply agreement, where discounted prices, concessionary interest rates, special financing arrangements and the fuel for rice offset were boosting Guyana’s economic growth. Reduction in foreign exchange from sugar exports and the forestry sector and lack of material foreign direct investment compounded the problems facing the economy. These are facts, not opinion, and certainly not political propaganda.
I will keep the letter short, as I will respond to Tacuma’s follow-up letter, as per his letter dated February 28, 2017 in another section of the media, where he claimed “I will have more to say about the double standards of Hinds”. Please my brother, in your follow-up letter, let me know what the etceteras in your letter represent. I am sufficiently independently-minded, in our country of race and political conformity, to support the green party or the red party; as I embrace the multiracial principles of Walter Rodney, Howard Zinn and Thomas Paine.