Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I believe there is money in Switzerland

I believe there is money in Switzerland
April 12, 2010 | By KNews | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon

The country’s population is small. In such an environment, things can hardly be kept as permanent secrets. We will come to that subject below, but first; the inscrutable nature of corruption. The elusive role of corruption is contained in its invisible dimensions.

A company gets a whopping contract for pharmaceuticals. The payment is absurdly high. You know that big, big officials in the ruling cabal will secure a few millions from that dirty transaction and bank it outside. The cash is deposited in the name of a sister who carries her married name. How does the press prove that? It cannot.

You will end up being found guilty for libel if you say that the pharmaceutical company secured a higher payment and gave Mr. Powerful a cutback, who then put the money in a bank account in his sister’s name in Europe. When the judge asks for proof, you better have it.

This is the invisibility of corruption in Guyana. The only way the exposure can come is when the press, using complex, subtle but leading sentences writes about these things. For example, read my fictional example above then think about it deeply.

Let’s return to corruption in a small society. Guyana’s population is just above 700,000 with a large percentage being babies, small children, unemployed labourers and ordinary folks who have no contacts with the world of power in Guyana.

That leaves us with a small percentage of people who actually comprise what we call the “real society” (for want of a better sociological description) and who because of their roles and placements in that society would have knowledge of what goes on in Guyana. It means secrets will come out.

They have to come out because the auditors at the Guyana Revenue Authority have sisters, brothers, cousins that know people in the media and elsewhere. The guys who catch people staling electricity have cousins, friends, brothers and sisters who have contacts in the society.

A simple example should suffice. Mary does business management at UG, graduates, takes a work at the GRA as an auditor and is off on her audit missions. She is sent to one of Guyana’s largest companies where she discovers evasions and manipulations that are glossed over by her superiors. She meets her lecturer at the City Mall, tells him what goes on. And there comes out there and then, facts on corruption.

The kings of corruption in this country cannot hide their venalities. People know about foreign bank accounts, particularly in Switzerland. The exasperating thing for us in the media is that we cannot procure the facts, so the libel laws confine us to sophisticated grammar.

I hope my Switzerland reference tells you something you need to know. With every passing day, Guyana moves at the top into the category of one of the world’s most egregiously corrupt countries in the context of powerful members of the political cabal stealing and taking kick-backs. What needs to be mentioned is the barefacedness of these elites in how they pursue their transactions.

Did you know a man got approval to buy state lands for G$1.5M? He then sold it for G$34M. Then a pattern emerges with this guy. People aren’t stupid. This man (who was in the news recently along with a so-called critic) cannot just go around buying state lands, getting state land grants, and selling the stuff making thousands and thousands of percentage profits just like that.

And to crown it all, one powerful name crops up all the time when this guy buys his lands and gets his concessions. This buyer (a junior politician) is actually the front for this powerful figure. Money ends up in foreign bank accounts.

Guyanese in the “real society” know about this monster of corruption that has devoured the ruling circles (don’t tell me Mama Janet and Papa Cheddi didn’t see it coming; they did). The corruption is ubiquitous. Guyanese encounter it all the time.

Do you know two young men in their early thirties are close to becoming billionaires with the companies they own? Do you know who their fathers are? I will give you a clue. Both fathers wouldn’t mind seeing a change in the Constitution that will do away with term limits.

As I told Christopher Ram in a conversation on Saturday, this Government is so bestially corrupt that we should no longer speak about the era and times of the Burnham Government. When we talk about dictatorship in Guyana, Burnham’s name has faded, gone from the records. The PPP Government is the only dictatorship this country knows.

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