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AFC calls for disclosure of billion-dollar contractors

AFC Chairman Nigel Hughes

The Alliance for Change has called on the government to reveal all the awardees of billion-dollar contracts in the wake of recent accusations of corruption between high-ranking PPP officials and businessmen levelled by former party executive Ralph Ramkarran.

Party Chairman Nigel Hughes told reporters on Thursday that the ruling PPP had been touting Ramkarran as a paragon of integrity when they suggested him for the position of Speaker in the wake of the 2011 elections and that lends credibility to his charges.

“In light of Mr. Ramkarran’s disclosure the AFC calls for the immediate release of all contractors and businessmen who have been beneficiaries of government contracts for sums in excess of one billion Guyana dollars and the publication of the circumstances in which they were awarded these contracts,” he said.

Ramkarran, a highly respected former Speaker of the National Assembly and attorney said in a recent article that the country would soon be known as the “Kleptocratic Republic of Guyana.” According to him, there was widespread corruption in government with party leaders acting in collusion with businesspeople in some instances. He said the party benefited from those alliances.

“The AFC is of the opinion that the time has now come for Guyanese society to stand up, increase their agitation for the immediate establishment of the Public Procurement Commission as a matter of national urgency,” Hughes said.

The AFC has tied its support for anti-money laundering legislation – which government says needs to be passed by August 26 – to the set up of the procurement commission. Government has said the legislation needs to be in place by that date if Guyana was to meet its international obligations and avoid sanctions.

Asked whether the party was mindful of those considerations in its heightened call for the Commission and whether they would work to meet the deadline Hughes said “the prospects of success is marginal.”

APNU Chairman David Granger told Demerara Waves Online News later that they supported the AFC’s position.

“We would support the move by the Alliance For Change, we’re equally concerned and that is why we’ve been calling for due diligence on the part of the IDB, we have not been in a hurry to approve anything without the facts,” Granger said referring to the Amaila Hydropower Project.

The matter is further compounded by the government’s call to retain the Cabinet’s role in the procurement process when the Commission is set up, an idea that both opposition parties are firmly against.

It was the PPP/C government in 2003 which passed the Procurement Act which mandates the phasing out of Cabinet’s involvement when the Commission is established.