Handcuffs now translating to investors feeling shackled

first_imgDear Editor,Recent charges against former Government officials who were key operators under the previous Government for private investment have left investors wary of dealing with the APNU+AFC Government.Recent charges against Singh and Brassington dealing with 3 major investors; pending investigations into over 20 more investment transactions spanning 20 years; and the shackling of former senior Government officials are now translating to investors feeling that they, too, could become trapped when engaging with APNU.Similarly, charges against the Board of Directors of one of the largest Guyanese banks by SOCU has raised questions on whether SOCU is carrying out its mandate in an independent and professional manner, or is simply following political instructions. SOCU and SARA are increasing being viewed as political, rather than professional. Employees of SOCU no longer see themselves as operating independent of Government, and have taken an attitude of simply awaiting orders.The newly created SARA, facing legal challenges on its legality, is also strongly opposed by the private sector, particularly given its staffing by former political persons, and the considerable power that the agency has been given at the expense of due process. Dr. Clive Thomas of SARA also seems embroiled over whether he will remain the Chairman of GuySuCo.Fear now stalks the land. If the Police, including SOCU, do not believe that they can act as an independent and professional agency, but are simply an extension of the political apparatus; if judges fear that any judgment against the Government will be met with criticism; if media houses feel that if they publish against the Government they may be intimidated or threatened; if the Opposition in Parliament feel that they are being muzzled; if the private sector is fearful of vindictiveness from the Government and SARA/SOCU coming after them; then democracy is under threat.The Parliament, Police, Judiciary, media, private sector are all key to the checks and balances of a democracy. When these institutions’ independence is under threat, then so is democracy.It is a fact that no new major investor has been secured by this APNU+AFC Government. The spate of criticism against the manner of negotiations by APNU officials with Exxon questions Local Government capacity, expertise, and conduct, and leaves Guyana exposed. The pending $30 billion bond for GuySuCo, shrouded in secrecy and lacking any transparency and accountability, is also causing potential investors to feel vulnerable.No less than a full Government guarantee, saddling the Treasury with high cost debt, is now required. Increasingly, the APNU style of limited engagement with key stakeholders, media, and public, coupled with criticism levelled against it of corruption and procurement breaches, seen alongside handcuffing and threats against former Government officials, is now manifesting itself to investors growing wary of engaging with this Government. As one investor said, we are seeing ominous signs signalling the risks of doing business in Guyana. No new investors, and domestic capital flight only confirm these risks.Sincerely,Political observerlast_img read more