Ms. Selman: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I rise to make my contribution on the motion under the caption “National Assets”, standing in the name of the Hon. Member Mr. Carl Greenidge. Before I do, permit me to refer the Hon. Member, the Attorney General, to the first Resolve clause of the motion, which identifies the period for review. I wish to read:
“Provide the National Assembly with a report in keeping with the law, on the disposal by sale or otherwise of all state lands, including the terms on which they were disposed of and the criteria used, which took place: Further between the date of announcement (Sunday, 9th October 2011) of the National and Regional Elections and 31st December, 2011 and between 1st January, 2000 and 9th October, 2011;”
...end of that Resolve clause. The period as identified would therefore be, Hon. Attorney General, January 1st, 2000 to December 31st, 2011 with specific emphasis on the distribution which took place between the date of the announcement of the National and Regional Elections 2011, that is Sunday October 9th 2011 and up to December 31st 2011.
The motion is not only about NICIL as the Government may want us to believe as adumbrated by the Hon. Minister of Housing, Mr. Irfaan Ali. The motion addresses the criteria for the disposal of land, shares, security and concessions. National assets are the property belonging to the Nation. Public property is any property that is controlled by a state or by a whole community.
Guyana’s national assets are not the private property of the Government. Therefore, if the Guyana’s Government intends to negotiate investment deals with interested parties on behalf of the people of Guyana, then the Guyanese people must be informed of such impending transactions or as soon as possible after they are completed. At a minimum, the Government must be willing to provide the duly elected representatives of the people of Guyana with a detailed report on the disposal by sale or otherwise of all state assets entrusted to NICIL and the privatisation unit, the terms on which they were disposed of and the criteria used, a report on the disposal by sale or otherwise of all other state assets including the terms on which they were disposed of.
We would recall that it was reported in the Kaieteur Newspapers dated 5th December 2011 that, and I wish to quote, “Guyana has dropped even lower on the latest Report of Transparency International Corruptions Perceptions Index.” In 2010 Guyana was ranked 116 out of a total of 178 countries assessed. In 2011 Guyana ranked 134. The index scores 183 countries and territories, from zero, that is, highly corrupt to ten which is very clean based on the perceived level of perceived levels of public sector corruption. It uses data from seventeen surveys that look at factors such as enforcement of anti-corruption laws, access to information and conflicts of interest.
According to Transparency International, corruption continues to plague too many countries around the world. The latest report shows some governments failing to protect citizens from corruption, be it abuse of public resources, bribery or secretive decision making. Transparency International has warrant that protests around the world often fuelled by corruption and the economic instability clearly show that citizens feel their leaders in public institutions are neither transparent nor accountable. Over the past months, the ruling PPP/C has come under severe fire over perceived corruption in the award of contracts and difficulty in the media access to information. Most recently a major US $1 million plus deal to upgrade Guyana’s airport was signed with a Chinese company in Jamaica, but only came to light after media reports from that country.
In addition, the media reported that the Government sold its 20% share in Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T), whether or not this was a sound business decision by the Government, Guyanese will never know because it was done in secret. Such was the level of secrecy that the CEO of GT&T was on record in the media expressing his surprise on the revelation of this transaction. As a consequence, Guyanese are concerned about the widely reported acts of lawlessness in the guardianship of our national resources and assets as well as the lack of transparency and accountability associated with the disposal of those assets.
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) therefore calls on the Government to provide a report on all the fiscal concessions, including duty free concessions, granted in response to specific requests or as parts of contracts awarded by the Tender Board and the criteria on which these awards were based be placed before the National Assembly for review and that the relevant Minister lay in the National Assembly for review and where applicable for ratification of all international agreements including mining agreements involving the award of state lands and fiscal concessions signed by the Government since January 1st 2000.
We hope that the Government will see that it is in their best interest, if they want to avoid criticism, to protect themselves by giving full disclosure of all transactions involving the people’s property. In this regard therefore, I hope the Government will see the wisdom in supporting this motion. Thank you. [Applause]