What an insult

Dear Editor,
The more I mingle with my brothers and sisters at meetings and rallies across the country, the more I am angered by the US$55 billion (Guyana twelve trillion dollars at 220) which the Granger-led cabal has “signed away”. I feel that it is, therefore, my duty to put this issue into context so the average man and woman can understand how such a sum could have been used for his/her benefit and for the country’s development generally.
Poor people have no choice but to go to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) when they are ill. Sometimes they have to travel long distances because since APNU/AFC came to power regional hospitals are lacking even basic medicines. GPHC, our premier State-owned hospital, does not own a MRI or a CAT Scanner so those who can afford it obtain such services at private institutions. Those who cannot afford it, and the cost for medical imaging is prohibitive, have to battle on without. That US$55 billion was sufficient to purchase over 100,000 new MRI machines and 22,000 brand-new lifesaving CT scanners. Such equipment is desperately needed to save lives in the public health sector.
It was reported that occasionally, Georgetown Hospital runs out of beds and patients are forced to share beds. I can only imagine the horrors, the legal, the medical and the human rights violations/exposure. Well, a new hospital bed costs US$1000, plus VAT compliments Jordan/APNU/AFC, so Granger, Trotman and company have given away the equivalent of 55 million hospital beds. As we are on health, the PPP/C Administration fought hard to build the Specialty Hospital at Liliendaal, which was budgeted at US$18 million. The project was eventually terminated by the APNU/AFC in 2016 despite Khemraj Ramjattan’s shameless push for his client, Fedders Lloyd. Granger, Trotman and the APNU/AFC coalition have therefore “signed away” 3055 Specialty Hospitals. Just imagine that for a moment we had in our grasp sufficient funds to build a hospital, and a specialty one at that, for every 245 persons in Guyana.
The PPP/C secured US$50 million in financing from India to build a four-lane highway from Ogle to Diamond. This is a 12km stretch of road. It took Winston Jordan more than four years to determine, whether accurately or not I cannot say, that the cost for the same road will be about US$175 million. The cost per kilometre is, therefore, US$14.5 million using Jordan’s math. For US$55 billion ($12 trillion dollars) Guyana could have built 3770 km of roads ie we could have built a road so long it would have stretched from Ogle to the northern borders of Argentina and Chile way at the bottom of South America. Separate from this, we are hearing that in a few decades the entire coast will be submerged due to global warming. I am sure the US$55 billion would have been more than enough to reconstruct the entire crumbling seawall infrastructure from Corriverton to Essequibo or construct new roads to shift everything and everyone inland. In terms of our airport, where APNU/AFC is spending more for less, we could have built 4 proper international airports costing some US$13 billion each like Beijing Daxing, Istanbul Ataturk and Mexico City International. With that sum, we could have purchased in cash 211 Boeing 747 Jumbo 400 passenger carriers.
In December 2015 it was estimated that there were 500 persons living on the streets in Georgetown. By extrapolation, we can estimate that there are about 2000 beggars or homeless persons in the country. It would take less than US$10 million to set up one shelter in each of our 10 administrative regions. This sum is a mere 0.018 per cent of US$55 billion. Granger, Trotman APNU/AFC and Co could not even muster the courage to bargain for such an insignificant amount to save our needy brothers and sisters. Incidentally, the US$18 million signing bonus, which APNU/AFC received and hid, is 0.03 per cent of the sum they signed away. If a man, working for $65,000 a month, received a 0.03 per cent Christmas bonus from his employer that would translate to a measly $20 and to him and every other Guyanese that would be an unpardonable insult. That, in a nutshell, is the indignation we should all be feeling today regarding the US$18 million bonus, the US$55 billion given away and the ExxonMobil deal.

Ravi Ram