GEORGETOWN –– Allegations that Guyana has been robbed blind by some politicians are still to be put to rest. Those accused of the wrong are still to answer questions on their accumulation of wealth.
Recently, former president Bharrat Jagdeo was, for at least the fourth time, asked about his wealth and the source of it.
He told the Press last week that he was finally ready to make the necessary disclosures but would only do so if this would be done across the board. Jagdeo wants all Members of Parliament to make similar disclosures.
Vice President Khemraj Ramjattan has described Jagdeo’s new condition as “wholly outrageous”.
Ramjattan said that Jagdeo was missing the point.
“None of us, and I can boldly say this, none of us in the government are even half as wealthy as Jagdeo. So it is not about us. The public has no reason to be interested in our wealth; he is the billionaire. Guyana wants to know about his wealth.”
Ramjattan said that Jagdeo’s move to set conditions highlighted two issues: he still thinks he is in control and is authorized to outline how things are to be done, and that he has something to hide and has therefore decided to use delaying tactics.
Addressing the first issue, Ramjattan said that it had long been a character trait of Jagdeo to want to take control of things even when they were not really in his authority.
Jagdeo is also in denial that he has lost power, Ramjattan said.
“He is yet to come to grips with the fact that he is no longer the boss.”
Ramjattan added that this was because the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had allowed Jagdeo to be king behind the throne during Donald Ramotar’s time as president. “So he is accustomed to running things; he was allowed to dominate the politics of the PPP.”
Ramjattan said that the sooner Jagdeo accepted the fact that David Granger was the president of Guyana, the sooner he would be able to cope with things.
The vice president said that Jagdeo’s demand to have all MPs disclose their earnings was just a delaying mechanism to avoid speaking about his wealth. Ramjattan said this was outrageous mainly because other MPS were not in Jagdeo’s financial league.
“He wants all MPs to disclose their wealth; but why? We are not as rich as him. Ramjattan does not own a pool, Ramjattan does not own a mansion in Pradoville. So what is Jagdeo’s point? He and his best friends are the rich ones; not us,” said Ramjattan.
He said that Jagdeo’s wealth might very well supersede that of government MPs collectively.
The vice president added that he was not aware of any of the politicians on the government’s side being multimillionaires. He said, too, that those who had afforded themselves a decent living had done so legally.
“We in the government are not very wealthy . . . . Jagdeo just does not want to tell the public about his. He does not want his wealth to be scrutinized, and that in itself speaks a lot of how it was accumulated,” said Ramjattan.
“I do not want to get into a big debate on this, but everyone knows about all the arrangements; we know about all the deals and all the contracts.”
Ramjattan drew a parallel to the fact that Jagdeo used tax dollars to build the Berbice River Bridge but allowed his “friends”, whose investments were minimal, to own it.
He said: “Look at the Marriott deal, and you will see clearly how he ran things while in office. So no wonder how he is so rich.
“I can continue, look at the Skeldon plant; that is one of the worst things he did. Then we have the Speciality Hospital with Surendra. What do all of these things point to?”
The vice president told Kaieteur News that his government wanted to work along with the PPP opposition and was therefore compelled to work with Jagdeo, being the leader of the opposition.
“But he must know that he is not in charge; he is no longer running things; and this country is now in better hands.”
Ramjattan added: “He must be put to his place in that regard. I, Khemraj Ramjattan, will certainly put him to his place, because we all know how things end up when he is in charge.”
Jagdeo is the proud owner of a seaside mansion with pool and servant quarters. He never told the nation how it was that he could have afforded such a property on his earnings.