I reply to Mr Jamil Changlee (KN Aug 10) on the narrow victory of APNU+AFC and to Ms. Sharmila Ally’s (KN Aug 9) castigation of Anil Nandlall for his alleged let down of those who were/are close to him in political battle.
Yes, the PPP won a narrow victory of one seat and just under 51% popular votes. But since its inauguration in August 2020, the party has several things going for it: a crumbling opposition and several opportunities to spend money to combat Covid and the devastating flood to build support. The stimulus, Covid grant to state employees, and educational grants, as well as the planned flood relief have all worked for the benefit of the people and demonstrate the vision of the government.
I disagree with Ms. Ally’s castigation of Mr. Nandlall on a number of issues. I agree that Nandlall is a political giant and a most brilliant speaker. This was amply illustrated in his presentation in parliament on August 9 where he blazed the opposition with witty and sarcastic remarks on their governance and behavior since a year ago.
Ms. Aly criticized the AG for not enforcing laws on the oil contract and on alleged corruption. The oil contract was negotiated and signed by Minister Rafael Trotman of the PNCR coalition government. Raphael Trottman said he was instructed to sign the contract. Nandlall excoriated him in parliament on Aug 9. PPPC Government’s hands are tied vis-à-vis the oil contract. Trottman was negotiating against Exxon skilled negotiators. Apparently, he and nor the Coalition government did not seek expert advice on the contract. Exxon outwitted Trotman by inserting a “stability” clause into the contract, which precludes unilateral renegotiation. The country Chad had the same stability clause built into their contract. Both Chad and Guyana have been caught with pants down by the oil negotiators.
Nandlall and PPP government can’t be held accountable for the blunders of the preceding government. In fact, Nandlall said in Parliament that it was the most lopsided contract ever signed by Guyana. The country’s international relations image of upholding the sanctity of contracts should not be impaired by political expediency.
On the progress of local content legislation, Vice President Jagdeo has been making a strong case for increased local content’s utilization. A local content committee was set up by the President. It collected data and drafted recommendations. But given the complexity of this subject, the government decided to get additional guidance from consultants, since Guyana don’t have this capability at this time.
My readings as an economist suggest that local content formulation is a very involved process. It will , therefore, take some time before legislation is brought to parliament. But it is a fair question for the administration and the AG. I agree government should expedite legislation on local content and enforce it.
Ms. Ally says that the AG has not been cracking down on alleged or perceived corruption. The writer should refer cases of corruption to the President or Vice President or the police for action. I support punitive actions against corrupt officials. But evidence is needed for prosecution. I note that similar complaints were made against PPP pre-2015. When APNU was installed in office, over 40 forensic audits were done but no evidence of corruption was revealed. It is callous to make statements based on speculations when there is no evidence. I can’t vouch for the integrity of politicians, but the Vice President and President said they have zero tolerance for improprieties. If there is evidence, please report same to the police. Fighting corruption is not within the AG’s portfolio. That responsibility is vested in the police (SOCU) and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Finally, I wish to point out to Ms Ally that in addition to those persons mentioned or identified as contributing to the restoration of democracy, several others combated the rigging in their own way. A major party was infiltrated by intelligence gatherers who provided information about the plan to rig, selection of judges for court cases, and expected judgments, etc. A few individuals confidentially collected and shared information with this writer. Strategic measures were undertaken to successfully crush nefarious plots; a lot of personal funds were invested to combat electoral fraud. The rigging was thwarted at each stage including at the Gecom level where every effort was made to swear in the incumbent. Had key individuals not been involved in underground operations, the rigging would have been successful, Granger sworn in, and PPP out of office. Several unsung heroes, whose names would never be revealed to protect their identity, contributed to the declaration of the PPPC as the winner of the 2020 elections.