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Since the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) arrested and charged former Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, last December for “misconduct in public office,” he has apparently retreated from public conversations. It is known he took ill on the day he was harassed by the State and had to be subsequently hospitalised. Public condemnations to the mistreatment of Mr. Jordan by the State were loud and reverberating. Were there any doubt in his mind about the decency and compassionate disposition of many Guyanese, it would have been removed. There is also reason to believe, based on public condemnations, that there would have been many private expressions of care and concern.
Jordan’s résumé makes him a formidable authority on the economy. He played pivotal roles as a public servant in a state-dominated economy during the Forbes Burnham government, to a private sector/market-driven economy introduced by the Desmond Hoyte government, and to subsequent adaptations by the Cheddie Jagan, Janet Jagan, Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar governments. From May 2015- August 1, 2020 Jordan was the Minister of Finance, piloting the economy under the David Granger/Moses Nagamootoo, A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) government.
This Page has keenly followed the former minister’s presentations and appearances in the media, mainstream and social. He was one of the most fearless and vocal representatives (self-critique, defender, etc) of the APNU+AFC government. Apart from that, he is an institution on the economy, having served in various capacities in all post-independent governments except that of Irfaan Ali’s. In progressive and more developed societies Jordan would have been sought out by various media houses and on the speaking circuit for his expertise and institutional memory.
His absence is being felt. This year’s National Budget is the largest ever. This Budget will also see the beginning of spending from the Natural Resources Fund (NRF). Guyanese are advised the Fund’s asset is presently about US$206,647,560.48. This is a lot of money. The potential for thievery, wastage and corruption is high. Since the Peoples’ Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) returned to government corruption is on the rise again. In 2021 Guyana dropped two points on the Transparency International Corruption Index.
The foundation of the new oil and gas economy would have had significant input from Jordan. Consequently, there is reason to believe he cares and still takes an interest in the management of the economy. And whilst there have been criticisms, some healthy, with regards to how the Government of Guyana could best manage the oil and gas revenue and ensure sustainable development for all Guyanese, Jordan’s voice in the national conversations remains important. The Sovereign Wealth Fund in its original formation was piloted by him.
Included in the original NRF Law were strong oversight and management structures which were both inclusive by representation and aimed to keep the government accountable to the people. This says a lot about the APNU+AFC government and arguably augurs well in political and ethnic divided societies such as ours. Wide cross sections of involvement could have aided the reduction of societal divisions and created opportunities for Guyanese to appreciate the intertwined nature of our daily survival and destiny.
The debate presentations by Members of the Parliamentary Opposition are enlightening. People are having clearer understanding about a budget that has left many behind, the discriminatory allocations of spending, and how the money could have been better utilised. As insightful as these presentations are, something is missing. Missing for the ordinary folks is Mr. Jordan’s voice from the national conversations. As a principal original architect of the Fund, it is he who understands it most and could best articulate what the PPP/C’s management and spending mean for us all.