The ‘good life’ is a figment of imagination

first_imgDear Editor,The Auditor General’s 2017 Report continues to demonstrate that the Coalition Government is not ‘fit and proper’ to govern this country and the ‘good life’ is a figment of the Finance Minister’s imagination.In every department of Government, the gross mismanagement and the blatant and downright thievery of public funds have gone entirely out of control. The tentacles of corruption have completely engulfed this nation and there is now an urgency like never before to be freed from this strangulation.The Audit Report is replete with examples of these. One would expect that the Guyana Defense Force (GDF) and the Ministry of Public Security would exhibit a high level of accountability, but unfortunately this was not the case.In 2017, the budgetary allocation for the procurement of goods and services for the Guyana Defense Force (GDF) was revised to $4.366 billion with a total of $4.361 being expended. However, the Audit Report flagged many instances where assets bought could not be located, for instance, an Ultra Sound Cleaner machine purchased for $608,000 could not have been located for physical verification at the time of the audit. Then in the current expenditure, there are some insanely high figures which are hardly believable. For instance, $569.949 million was expended on fuel and lubricants for Senior Officers and it was seen that one motor car actually consumed $3.07 million in fuel, amounting to $256,242 per month! In addition, the Stores Regulations were severely breached, while a huge quantity of assets cannot be given physical forms and numerous expense vouchers cannot be traced.What is also alarming, is the fact that many contractors were actually given the capital investment financing to provide the items contracted and yet failed to make timely delivery of the items. For instance, the sum of $64.734 million was awarded by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) to a supplier for 3 Stallion 4×4 Truck Troop Carrier. The agreement was signed on 27th October, 2017, and the supplier was immediately paid $45.314 million. This is 70 per cent of the contract cost! Therefore, it is seen that this is a clear case of financing. But lo and behold! The delivery which was supposed to be in 3 months, was yet to be done 10 months after!The Ministry of Public Security is a mirror image of what took place in the Guyana Defense Force (GDF). For instance, there was an overpayment of staff who severed employment, of which $1,123 million is still to be recovered along with deductions of $889,691. Another case of financing the supplier is the procurement of drugs and medical supplies for the Guyana Forensic Services Laboratory. Another case is the award of a contract to purchase one multi-purpose Fire Rescue boat. This was sole-sourced for $307.457 million and the contractor was paid $131.354 million or 43 per cent of the contract price. After 10 months, this capital item is still to be delivered. Also, the sum of $16.947 million was awarded and fully paid to the supplier, but materials valued $10,818 million is still to be received. Then there is overpayment for maintenance work, overpayment for capital works, breaches of the Stores Regulations and missing log books for vehicles.The above scenarios reflect what is happening in all the Government departments at the Regional and Central Government levels. The tsunami of corruption has inundated and paralysed the economy. Therefore, we as Guyanese need to question ourselves: Whither are we going as a Nation? The Budget gets bigger each year, but what is trickled down to the average person continues to be less with each passing year. Will it be too much to ask that this government give back the cash grants to students? Or the subsidies to the pensioners? Or a living wage increase to all Guyanese including the sugar workers? Or to reduce the numerous taxes? Or the removal of VAT on water and electricity? Or an increase in the old age pension and the public assistance? Or to create investments and job opportunities for our young people? I do not think so! Everyone needs to have a taste of the ‘good life’!Monies to ease the sufferings of the masses can be found if proper budgetary allocation and control is done and there is proper accountability and financial management. It is evident that if the corruption is reduced, then more monies can be made available. The excesses can be trimmed to give a taste of the ‘good life’ to the downtrodden of our society. The Auditor General’s Report has unearthed so many areas where value for money is lost, hence the solution is not bigger budgetary allocations to these Government entities. In fact, these can be cut to facilitate fiscal space and spending in vitally important areas.I am sure the ‘good life’ has not even begun for the masses so the theme of this year’s budget is now a platitude!Yours sincerely,Haseef YusufRDC CouncillorRegion 6last_img read more

The GOL Hasn’t Spent 200,000,000 on Lobbying in the US

first_imgAbout two years ago, I was in a conversation with some people in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, who accused the Liberian government of spending over US$ 200 million on lobbying in the United States. These individuals provided the website, www.foreignlobby.org as their source of information. I read all the reports on the website, but was curious that it was showing LISCR spending millions on lobbying. I called ProPublica and Sunlight Foundation, the two owners of the website, to get the source of their information. I was again referred to a US government website, www.fara.gov . For almost two years, I have made it my duty to learn how to navigate that website and understand the documents in there.In subsequent years, the story has grown from a basement discussion into a major social media topic. I am surprised that it is now a political hotcake in Monrovia. The information is readily available, so I do not understand the continued lingering of this issue, especially at the highest level of the government. I think political zealotry, an ineffective government bureaucracy and a press that is eager for scandal are the contributing factors. Did Liberia spend US$200,000,000 on lobbying in the United States? We will use the source, the FARA website to seek an answer.By the way, what is FARA? The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was enacted in 1938. FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities. The agents being referred to here are US persons or firms. The foreign principals can either be a foreign government or a foreign company.Let it also be made clear that FARA is not solely responsible for reporting on lobbying. Its reporting scope is much wider. Transactions reported to FARA are not entirely related to lobbying; all kinds of professional services are reported to that US government agency. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (LDA), 2 U.S.C. § 1601, administered by Congress is strictly about lobbying.We will now examine the Government of Liberia, its agencies and Liberian companies that have appeared in reports to congress – requirement of FARA – for the period January 2006 to December 2012. The Government of Liberia (GOL), the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of State and Presidential Affairs and a Liberian company, AmLib United Minerals are the entities from Liberia mentioned in all the reports covering the period. The United States firms that have dealt with these entities are LISCR; KRL International; JWI, LLC; Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, LLP; Radelet, Steven Charles (Center for Global Development) and BKSH & Associates. Please find below a table summarizing the relationships and transactions between them:Transactions for Liberia as reported to FARAThe $200M lobbying talk in Monrovia is much ado about nothing. My accounting instinct tells me that somebody is misreading reports. As shown in my table above, the claim that the government of Liberia has spent over $200,000,000 on lobbying for the period covering 1/1/2006 to 12/31/2012 is erroneous. I do not work for nor represent the Government of Liberia, but as an individual who desires an honest and sincere fight against corruption, that is void of politics, I felt constrained to provide the facts I have gleaned from study of these documents. An additional purpose of this letter is to move this conversation away from political rhetoric and sentiments to one based purely on facts and evidence. I am open to a serious rebuttal from folks who can provide solid facts contrary to those I have outlined.Some will attempt to use Alex Knotts’ Roll Call article, “Lobbying by Foreign Countries Decreases”, as one of the sources to support their argument. Knott’s article makes a passing reference to Liberia spending $45.9 M in 2010; however he provides no data to substantiate this claim. If he used the information on the FARA website for his September 15, 2011 article, he made a faulty conclusion by including the LISCR transactions as lobbying fees. I have written him series of letters to disprove his piece, but he has not responded to my letters. Anybody can follow up with him at [email protected] Thanks for giving me an opportunity to contribute to a national discourse..* My sources are semi-annual reports to congress (listed on the website) and supplemental statements for each of the registrants that dealt with Liberia in the six years (2006 to 2012)Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more