by Zena Henry
As the A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition continues to promise increased wages and salaries, it is pointing to the unauthorized use of public funds by the governing -People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s (PPP/C).
The PPP/C’s main opponent in the upcoming election;- 11 days away- has noted that apart from allegedly siphoning off public money, the ruling-party is also spending state funds excessively, and seems bent on emptying the nationals purse before they demit office.
This year’s election could be an extremely close one, and could see any of the two giants becoming the next government, come May 12. However the Coalition’s Presidential candidate David Granger, told Demerara Waves, Tuesday 28, that indeed the current spending being done by the ruling party is being eyed by the opposition.
He said that, “There is a real concern that the government is now on a spending spree and it has exhausted its money. As you know there has been no budget. Normally budget is presented by the end of March, end of the first quarter, this is already April.”
Granger said that President Ramotar prorogued parliament and then dissolved it on February 28, which prevented the presentation of a budget, so funds have not been provided for projects for this year.
“But it is clear that the government is spending state resources and trying to create the impression that it is developing the country by opening a lot of new projects within the last month of elections.”
“There is a real danger there… what we call squander mania. Because it is do or die for them and they feel that by trying to impress the public with these projects they will be reelected, so in doing that they are likely to bankrupt the treasury.”
In addressing questions of being able to run a “broke” country, Granger said that, the Coalition is aware that a lot of public revenue has been diverted from the Contingency Fund into the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Forestry Commission, National Industrial Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and elsewhere, “so we are confident that there will be some money there in order to continue government functioning.”
In relation to the promises being made to Coalition supporters and how soon they can be realized, the Presidential candidate said that the party will have to work fast as soon as they get in office.
APNU+AFC Prime Ministerial candidate, Moses Nagamootoo earlier this week reiterated to a rally in Bartica that a coalition-led administration would find the money to pay a 10 percent salary increase to government employees and an Old Age Pension of GUY$15,000 by cutting ut waste, extravagance and corruption. “I want to tell them that after we investigate all the corruption and the hidden bank accounts and we bring in all the money from NICIL, the billions of dollars they have hidden away, we will have more than 10 percent to give all of you,” he said. The coalition has also promised to hike the salaries of members of the law enforcement agencies by 20 percent.
Nagamootoo signaled that there would be no vendetta but there would be justice in the fight against corruption by the PPPC-led administration. “We are not intimidating anyone, we are not threatening anyone. There would be no vendetta but there will be justice so when we say it is time, it also means it is jail time,” he said.
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo Tuesday night told a public meeting at Eccles, East Bank Demerara again cautioned against an increase in wages and salaries, which have to be paid monthly, without a formula to generate revenue. With Guyana still running a five percent budget deficit, he said Guyana has to rely on loans and grants to bridge the deficit. He warned against using the US$800 million international foreign reserves in the Bank of Guyana. “If you use that money to finance any deficit, the exchange rate is going to start going higher. When the exchange rate goes higher it becomes more expensive to import things so inflation rate goes up, cost of living goes up,” said Jagdeo, a former Finance Minister. The Russian-trained economist further explained that the only way to manage such a situation is by increasing interest rates to about 35 percent which would ultimately make it more difficult for Guyanese to secure loans to build and own homes.
Granger said one of quickest means is to prevent the continued diversion of state resources from the Contingency Fund and it is in the party’s interest to get back the money siphoned off back into the Contingency Fund so that they can be brought under the purview of the National Assembly.
He said the party will also have to work quickly for an emergency budget in order to keep the country running.
“We have a pretty good idea where the money has gone to. We don’t know how much is there but we will be in charge of the Legislature and we will be able to pass laws to get the funds to where they belong. Public funds must come under public scrutiny.”
Granger reminded that the party is aware that the main sources of diversion are from the lotto fund, revenues from mining, timber and such industries. Those found culpable will be held responsible, he stated.