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OPINION: Public Accounts Committee- removal creates vacancy to close the circle 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 June 2021, 8:59 by Denis Chabrol

by GHK Lall

The media has been awash with news on the removal of David Patterson as chair of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC).  Without revisiting what Mr. Patterson did, or who did the same or worse before him, I think it is a step in the right direction, despite the pain that it brings  We must make a start somewhere to instill confidence in Guyanese that their business and related spending are conducted in an impeccable manner in the trenches, and overseen by people in parliament, who are immaculate in reputation.  Now trouble brews, and I must venture into dark, sinister waters that bring foreboding.

There has to be a replacement chair of the PAC.  It is a foregone conclusion that, if the PPP has its way, he or she will be a party nominee and selectee.  It is a done deal, since the brain trust of the party is skilled to the point of being unbeatable with such tricks.  As I examine the field, a particular one among those votes supporting Mr. Patterson’s removal comes to mind.  He is ambitious, well-positioned, and has earned a reputation already for being a bargainer.  He is an angler for things that are self-serving.  All of those are qualities, which places him in a strong position from which to lobby.  Or to listen to what is involved, his side of the quid pro quo, and something with which there should be much familiarity.  His name gives the PPP wisenheimers cover to claim that it is a neutral process and result.  Whether it is the man I have in mind, or some other, my apprehensions persist strongly, for I have grave misgivings about where all of this is heading.

I look ahead, and this is how the horizon appears, and as reinforced by the realities in our governance environment, democratic to be sure.  The PPP decides on the projects.  PPP public servant saints spend the billions.  PPP leaning auditors (tells of my trust or cynicism level) review the billions expended, and whether there was value for money, robust systems of oversight, documentation, and accountability, among other priority issues.  And then, there could be the high probability of a PPP controlled PAC and chair in parliament to put a rubberstamp on all the proceedings from before.  I will say here and now that this is a fine state of affairs in this democracy.  It is one which confirms (for me, at least) that the noose which PPP leaders place around the neck of Guyana tightens and closes relentlessly.  Complete control.  Total domination.  No relief in the offing.  Is Guyana still breathing?  Any air that is fresh and clean in the governance department?  I beg to think and lean otherwise.

Now, other citizens may have high regard for the immaculacy of the presidency and vice presidency, as currently embodied.  The noble intentions, the steadfast determination to deal with the people’s business fairly and represent them reliably.  And as much as I both salute and scorn such blind trusting charity, I regret that I am unable to summon any such generosity.  Even though I am willing to do so, both officeholders have not persuaded through the power of deeds that match their well-prepared, and always smoky, silky words.  To put this differently, truths and values are alien in meaning, relationship, and practices with what Guyanese have had to coexist.  It should not surprise that I am similarly inclined in any evaluation of almost the whole kit and caboodle of the rest of them.  Show me a dozen honest PPP government operators, and I will show Guyana two dozen winning Powerball tickets.  But this is a country where from national leaders to ordinary citizens hold their cards close to the chest: none has winning ones to bare.

So, opposition member PAC chair, David Patterson, has been ousted.  I believe that the same can be accurately said for the opposition itself also.  What else is left to undo?  What other obstacles, human or procedural, are there to dismiss, or dilute?  When I contemplate all of this, I sense that we are in deep trouble, many billions of dollars in them.  It is Guyana’s witching hour, a Black Swan governance event.