…corrupts the watchmen?
By the beginning of the new millennium, with the growth of the drug trade, it wasn’t surprising that a tremendous amount of the cash generated had to be laundered. This, of course, was the rationale for the global FATF to lean on the CFTAF to lean on the Guyana Government to not only pass legislation to fight this scourge, but to create institutions to investigate the players. With the FIU already in place, in 2014, the PPP administration created the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) to be the investigative arm of the former body. The emphasis was on “organised crime”.
The following year, the PNC-led coalition entered office, and it wasn’t long before they gave themselves that humungous raise and changed the entire focus of the Unit: to “get” the PPP and those identified with their administration. A “stake out” of a house – which they thought was owned by the ex-head of NICIL – led to a high-speed chase that resulted in the death of a GDF Intelligence officer. That the house wasn’t even owned by Brassington showed that SOCU was less about “investigation”, and more about political harassment.
SOCU NEVER investigated any money laundering, but rather, was sic’d to investigate claimed malfeasance by the PPP Ministers and various rollover agency heads – putatively based on audits ordered by the PNC-led Government. Even though there were a number of charges filed, there hasn’t been a single conviction to date. The most high-profile case – on the allocation of house lots at Pradoville II and involving President Jagdeo – is still outstanding. But in all accounts, it was more of throwing mud at the PPP and hoping some would stick.
All of this shadowboxing in pursuing the PNC’s political vendettas had to’ve affected the Unit, and it was only a matter of time that something had to give. And we arrive at the revelations that an audit of SOCU’s finances shows that there’s been rampant corruption and fraud at all levels. Millions and millions have been pilfered in the last four years.
Now, while there will (justifiably) be questions about “who will watch the watchmen?” – with even the Latin version cited, “quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” – we have to look at the systemic factors that have made fraud and corruption endemic not only in SOCU, but in every section of the Government.
And this factor is the decision by this PNC-led Government to callously serve only two ends: enrich themselves and go after the PPP, to be returned to enrich themselves further. This has created such a high level of cynicism in governance that all aspiration to serve is gone.
And replaced by the compulsion to “tek” as much as they can get.
…will turn off the light?
Some interesting figures were released by the US Embassy that’ll definitely affect the elections – whenever they’re held. Permanent visas, we’re told, jumped from 4000 in 2017 to 7500 in 2018. When the previous Ambassador departed last November (well temporarily, since he’s back in the goldfields!) he announced 18,000 immigrant visas had been issued in his three years at Duke Street. So it looks like 6000 Guyanese annually leave permanently; or almost 30,000 between 2015 and 2020, the adults who won’t be voting.
The numbers on visitors’ visas were an astounding 86,133, or an average of 29,000 annually. It seems this has dropped to just 5000 last year. But not to worry… a whole lotta those visas issued earlier were for 10 years. And they’re still travelling back and forth. So an average of 5000 of these won’t be here to vote. And we haven’t considered Canada!!
The unknown variable, of course, is the ethnic breakdown, to figure which party has lost more votes.
…will control immigration?
While we’re on visas, isn’t it time we have some control over whom we allow in? And your Eyewitness isn’t talking about those unfortunate Venezuelan refugees; he’s more concerned about all those Chinese allowed in to open supermarkets. What happened to computer assembly?