The Guyanese people have been so dumbfounded by the blatant thievery, corruption and gross incompetence which have been exposed during the 2020 Budget Debate by the PPP/C Government’s side of the House that they are still unable to fathom the great alacrity with which our economy has retrogressed in just 5 years. But hopefully, they will recuperate quickly given the numerous benefits which the budget will bring to them after just over a month with the PPP/C in Government. At the same time, however, I am sure that Guyanese will vow never to make another grave mistake like they did in 2015 to put the coalition again in power.
The many acts of corruption and incompetence which the PPP/C MPs exposed are too numerous to be mentioned here but I will just highlight a few. Everyone will agree that the nation’s health should be of paramount importance to any Government but the coalition even used the health sector as their stomping ground for corruption and thievery. For instance, Dr Mahadeo revealed that an anaesthetic machine which was bought for millions could not be used in the hospital since it was for veterinary surgeries and not human, and a CT scan machine was not being put to use but being stored at a cost of $174 million per year, drugs were procured at more than 300 to 1000 per cent of the normal price, $76 million for COVID-19 was used to rent buses when the Regional Health Authority has three buses in working condition which sat idly in the compound, this reality became nightmarish when the acute shortage of drugs, poorly functioning labs and the hardly functioning Ophthalmology Hospital are brought into the equation.
This acute shortage of essential drugs was also statistically evidenced by Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony’s presentation. He also highlighted the flouting of the procurement laws. He pointed out that despite continual drugs shortages, expired drugs from January to August, drugs valued $732 million, expired, another 200 million will expire by December, bringing this to nearly a billion dollars. Sadly, it will take more than $3 million to dump these expired drugs, an additional burden on taxpayers. The Minister also highlighted the hundreds of millions uselessly spent on the Sussex Street Bond and Princes Street Bond while over 60 per cent of the capacity of the MMU at Diamond held expired drugs. What is worse is the fact that the Ocean View Hotel was used to store drugs which were infested with rodents, pests, and cobwebs. In addition, a container with immunisation items has been sitting at the wharf for nearly 2 years accruing demurrage charges of $4.1 million. It took the PPP/C Government just hours to clear this container.
Moreover, the so-called Ocean View Hospital cost $1.6 billion and it was loftily commissioned by the former President Granger but later it was found that he commissioned an empty building, a virtual ‘shell’. There were no beds, no medical equipment, no water connection, no sewerage connection and no electricity connection. The Minister lamented this “tale of heartlessness and indifference” in the midst of a major pandemic – the dreaded COVID-19. Imagine a Government bent of looting the country’s Treasury whilst death is at the doorsteps of its people.
On the other hand, it was also quite laughable to listen to the APNU/AFC’s Members of Parliament making vain attempts to dislodge and distort the facts. They appeared completely at a loss and their presentations actually conveyed situations which reflected their own incompetence and corruption. They jarred the sensibilities of any reasonable person.
Firstly, they spoke about an illegal Government when they were the ones who were attempting, on many occasions, to rig the 2020 elections in full view of the world. If the coalition so strongly feels that the PPP/C Government was installed through fraudulent means then they should have boycotted the sitting of Parliament. Then they attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to speak about the ‘progress’ they made during their term in Government. They were so ‘successful’ that they were ousted by a No-Confidence Motion one and a half year before they were due to leave office by a party with a minority Opposition party in Parliament. It was unprecedented that a Member of Parliament of a sitting Government in Guyana would vote with the Opposition, but it happened because even those in the APNU/AFC could no longer bear the stench of corruption and incompetence which emanated from their Government.
Secondly, the coalition failed to realise that many of the major projects which started under the PPP/C Government prior to 2015 are still to be concluded, for instance, the CJIA and even those which were completed are substandard and falling apart. Projects such as the D’Urban Park stand today as a testimony to the thievery and incompetence of the coalition. As the D’Urban Park is deteriorating due to incompetence the Auditor General is still unable to find where $600 million went. In whose pocket? It must be recalled that many transformative projects started by the PPP/C Government such as the Amaila Hydro Power and the Specialty Hospital were thrown into the garbage bins. On the other hand, it is amusing to note that many of the ‘successes’ of the coalition were actually ‘feasibility’ studies which cost taxpayers a fortune, immediately the Demerara Harbour Bridge comes to mind.
In conclusion, it was painful to listen to the harrowing tales being related by each one of the PPPC/C presenters, be it on agriculture, mining, forestry, housing, infrastructure, taxation, export, security, etc. It was evident that everything the coalition touched was transformed into filth.