Thursday, November 15, 2007

Guyana's Laundromat

Hang em' to dry

President Bharrat Jagdeo continues his school boy's assessment of how economies run and how those who are elected to govern, fulfill their mandate to the electorate. The latest episode did hit us like bolts of lightening and we must confess, we laughed our hearts off to the bank.

The President just doesn't seem to have one iota (we can say this definitively on this blog because not even the private media can criticise the President) about money laundering. Perhaps he does and prefers to cast the spotlight away from Guyana.

Whatever the reason for his latest charade which saw him pelting blows at the United States and not taking the bull by its horn is totally unacceptable. Instead of seizing an opportunity to send a strong message to the launders and their agents, the President sought to lecture a body of bankers that the US needs to put its house in order before pointing fingers at Guyana. Very good argument except it is best suited for an encounter with fazil, boysie and the other boys you find in any rum shop and there are many sprawled across Guyana.

Like a true school boy with his runny nose and pink rag pinned against his chest , with lunch kit tucked in hand, the President sought to show how it was the US and not Guyana that had a bigger problem when it comes to money laundering.

Pissing poor and flimsy of the President.

When you speak Mr. president it's not about which country that has the worst track record, but you defend Guyana on policy issues and what you intend to do about a problem that needs fixing.

Quite frankly, we don't care much if the majority of the narcotics is destined for the US or even if the proceeds are laundered in the land of the brave first before flowing through to other small economies.

The U$ is free to launder money, import and/or export narcotics. But, what we are concerned about, is the fact that it passes through our porous borders and the drug dealers (which every Guyanese know) can set up shop by owning buildings and having Government concessions.

Mr. President, the next time you speak on behalf of the 54 % of the electorate that voted for your return, tell us about the progress that Guyana has made in prosecuting money launders and just how much drug dealers the police have captured.

While you are at it, please don't tell your next audience that an anti-money laundering bill has been crafted and is before the Parliament. It's laughable. You did not assent to several bills last year. This year you are still to assent to a few key ones, foremost among them is the "Recall Legislation". What is even more laughable, is the fact that your Minister of Home Affairs is still to make several bills operational although they were passed in the National Assembly months back.

One of those bills will help lock away for good, persons found with illegal firearms. Yet this bill remains a showpiece of the balded Minister of Home Affairs, who might still be unaware of Guyana's size.

Mr. President, you seem so defensive when it comes to money laundering that it makes us feel uncomfortable to even share information with local police. Not only us, but we are certain that many Guyanese will be scared to come forward and the media will be intimidated when tracking drug related stories.

Thanks Mr. President for defending the backbone of your economy that is so close to your heart.

The next time you want to hang your dirty linen (money laundering secrets) in public do it at a rum shop with Manniram Prashad (your more than good friend).

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