Monday, February 20, 2012

Million dollar taxis

Three tax services earned close to $13 million and $10 million in two years through the Tourism Ministry.

No one could explain why the Ministry continues to use taxis even though vehicles are provided at the ministry.

R &T Taxi Service owned close to $7 million while Green Ice Taxi Service earned $2 million and Indian Chief earned $144000.

It would be interesting to measure how this expenditure translate to the promotion of Tourism.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In search of transparency

Transparency continues to elude this country and even with an Opposition Majority we feel less convinced that our interests will be properly presented.

The facts often presented in the Auditor General report only illuminates what is hear-say around the country and often dismissed. But once we look at the black and white on those pages, we cannot dismiss that we are being taken for fools.

For more than two years we heard about a well funded plan to bring another fiber optic cable to the country using taxpayers money. Under any other circumstance, any project dealing with telecommunications would be dealt with under the Office of the Prime Minister.

This isn't the case, this time around the Office of the President as set up and escrow account with millions of US dollars aimed at executing this project.

Don't get us wrong, we understand that by law the Auditor General can scrutinize any public record but we sincerely doubt that the AG pushed his broom as far as it can reach in this instance. An estimated of more than $800 million for this project his a guess-timate with the AG office seeming reluctant to pursue the finer financial details of the project.

A project that is probably already costing taxpayers, takes up less than two paragraphs in the Ag report.

What is more bothering that is that the Opposition will not use its Economic Services committee to ensure that we get value for money or to ensure that all the financial undertakings of this project is brought to the fore.

What we do know is that the continued abuse of resources will have an everlasting impact on taxpayers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

GPL’s fiber structure in Guyana

Once again the Government of Guyana is hoodwinking the people of Guyana. GPL has announced a need for rate increase to account for the shortfall in revenues. They propose to approach he Public Utilities Commission to grant them an increase in electricity rates.

GPL has been the only Utility that has consistently increased rates over the years.

While hiding under the cover of the losses and rates, the power company is also building a fiber networks across the country for a whopping $45million US dollars. This is being built even as one telephone company built its own network across the country.

The Power Company’s CEO justified his company’s cable being “more secure” than the Telephone Company’s – even though all the international agencies are using the Telephone Company’s cable which seem very “secure and redundant” fiber network. The only advantage GPL’s fiber has over another other fiber cable is that GPL is supposedly running theirs above the high voltage lines – so zero access by would-be vandals. However, GPL do not offer any redundancy and will eventually have to procure such redundancy from another company. What happens to GPL’s top-secured line if a truck crashes into the poles and brings it down?

We have also noticed that the power company is already in the apparent mode to sell capacity in its lines. However no self-respecting company will use this non-redundant system since, in the IT world, redundancy is critical. And, speaking of self-respecting companies, not even the Ministry of Finance, the local and international banks or the top business will risk putting its business on a non-redundant, flawed, Chinese-designed and Government owned system.

And, in mentioning the Chinese, they are building this system in which we expect US-based firms to put their businesses? We can foresee that the Government system will be run by the Guyana’s- IT-Czar-cum-Ramoutar’s son, and who will account for these funds released pre-Ramoutar era?

Coming back to the GPL’s proposed rate increase – this is a smart way to get the consumers to fund the Chinese fiber project. The build of the GPL’s fiber network will increase depreciation cost of the company, thereby reducing their profit, requiring, more money from consumers to meet that shortfall – so, in the final analysis, Guyanese consumers and politicians have to decide NOW if GPL must go through with a waste of resources which will be paid for by the unsuspecting public.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A new dispensation?

A New dispensation in Parliament and a chance for people to demand more of these politicians. For ages a non working Integrity Commission and Police and Judical Service Commissions.

The lack of a proper Integrity Commission, one which is still directed by the Head of the Presidential Secretariat and one still directly funded by the Office of the President has contributed to the in proper conduct of officials allowing them to habour hundreds of millions on dollars in assets and businesses around the world.
For instance, the Former President has been able to build a multi million dollar home even after he has already set himself up restaurants and apartment buildings in the United States. But he isnt the only one opposition politicians are taking their share of the pie too, small pies of course, nothing compared to the bug wigs of the present administration. For instance many of them are getting themselves into mining. I guess we will hear less of them about the ills of this sector.
But it can only be the lack of a functioning Integrity Commission that would see the Housing Minister setting himself up a nice lil mansion in the West of the Demerara River. We have all heard at one time or another of these guys bug spending and investment, about deals and cut backs but sometimes the actual revelation is much more shocking than we expect. There has been much speculation about how Ali got his money to build his home, but it comes as no surprise that people like Ali benefit from special arrangements from well known contractors and home building retailers. Ali could better explain how after selling hundreds of acres to National Hardware he was casually meeting the owner for drinks. But this is a norm in our society, to get the best of deals, we must know whose hands to shake. While we are on Ali, it is also quite interesting to know that the same Housing Minister now owns a Quamina street property previously owned by Guyana Times Owner Bobby Ramroop which was acquired from Tony 'sell out' Viera. The property was once the home of Evening News and is now rented by Caricom Insurance.

We mentioned the Judicial Service Commission earlier and we only did so since news of the rental of a city property has sparked attention. Of Course it is fine to rent your property but if you are the Chief Justice if you rent your property to owners of a strip club there is some serious issues with ethics here. The South Road property owned by the CJ has been recently renovated and is now the spotlight for a "brazilian strip club" as is commonly known.

We often wonder what will become of our society.