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Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo’s expressed intent, as reported in Kaieteur News (11/12/2021), to have the Irfaan Ali regime tamper with the Natural Resources Fund (NRF) law is an act designed to escape accountability. To uproot the part in the law that seeks to ensure accountability through oversight of the management and utilisation of the withdrawal from the Fund is a travesty.
Though the move comes as no surprise given the pervasive corruption under Jagdeo’s presidency, society should be incensed. This amendment is designed to undermine oversight and control to ensure the nation’s resources are managed and distributed in the best interest of all Guyanese. To remove or even reduce the 22-member organisations flies in the face of Article 13 in the Constitution of Guyana.
Article 13 expressly speaks “…to establish [ing] an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens, and their organisations in the management and decision-making processes of the State, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision-making that directly affect their well-being.”
The Ali/Jagdeo regime is trampling on tenets that would ensure respect for the supreme law, best practices, transparency, and good governance. All of these are necessary for peace and harmony in this racially charged society. Let’s not be fooled. This is not about the ridiculed ‘academic’ nature of the law; it is about finding a nonsensical reason to remove a sensible approach to governing and oversight.
Jadgeo does not even know what he is saying, and it is hoped former Minister of Finance Winston Jordan could find the time, even though recuperating, to respond to allegations about his record. The fact that he said the law reads like an “academic” paper suggests it has the elements required to be implemented. It should be detailed in analysis and information.
A situation is being created where laws will be amended not for the good of the nation and its people but to serve the interest of a few. And this government will use situations like these to stomp on dissent and marginalised citizens. The proposed amendment would be legal but immoral. Citizens have a right and duty to challenge immoral laws.
It is evident the government would prefer a partisan, political instrument that will serve only the ruling elite. And there is every reason to fear they are now moving to realise this. I have argued before about the need for passing key legislation with more than a simple majority because what will happen is that laws will be changed based on political expediency and not necessarily for the good of the people and nation.
Guyanese must resist Jagdeo’s underhand effort to control the nation’s wealth This is what the proposed amendment is all about. Some are determined to get their hands on the oil money by any means necessary. This is not about being accountable to the people and our national interest. Look the other day, the government failed to audit Exxon and has saddled the nation with a debt of US$9.5 billion to the company because of their ineptness.
The PPP leaders are looking at laws to weaken and dismantle the oil and gas structure, including undermining whatever revenue could be accrued to the people. Every day they are moving to topple the guardrails of democracy. Guyanese, with our collective will, must find ways and means of confronting this galloping greed, recklessness, and absence of accountability.
Whereas the COVID-19 environment places limitations on street protests, other legitimate ways and means could be utilised to bring about accountability and equity in the system. We have to ensure every Guyanese could have a fair share of the national pie.