…on sugar workers’ sweatWhen the PNC-led Government arbitrarily shut down four of the seven sugar estates in the country, they knew they were dooming over 7000 workers; their families of at least another 28,000 persons and depressing the surrounding communities, to “nasty, brutish and short” lives. It was a “condign” lesson to folks dubbed incorrigible supporters of their arch enemy, the PPP.But not satisfied with destroying so many lives, the PNC decided to play Monopoly with the closure. The Special Purpose Unit (SPU) formed to sell off the estates, floated a $30 billion bond – that’s US$150 million. The Opposition Leader was quite scathing in inquiring what could be done in such a short time span of five years. He pointed out the inanity of going to the securities market for a five-year bond since interest (at the agreed 4.75 per cent) of $132 million would have to be paid every year and the whole principal be repaid at the end of the five years!! Where would they get the money from in such a short time?In a huff, the SPU announced its “plans” for the money: The GY$30 billion would be used to help finance “an ambitious strategic plan to turnaround the fortunes of the Guyana sugar industry. The strategy involved the development of two co-generation facilities, upgrades to the existing sugar factories to produce white sugar, the restructuring of debt, and ongoing training and education for the workers and management of GuySuCo.” Well, duh!! Didn’t that simply confirm the Opposition Leader’s surmise??!! Where’s the “white sugar”, or the Co-gen plants?? The bond syndicate prohibited paying off debt with the money!!Well the first year’s interest was due the end of March and this newspaper had to turn cartwheels to get confirmation that the first $132 million was coughed up to the banks. Finally, it was grudgingly conceded so the question arises as to where they got this from. After all, the SPU had only sold some lots from the managers’ quarters at Wales – but had spent much more that those proceeds to transform the GuySuCo LBI Managers’ Club into a Sandals-like facility to be used for public soirees!! Not to mention they’d spent another hundred million to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to “valuate” the closed estates – which now had to be “upkept”!!After boasting that they had to beat off buyers of the closed estates with a stick, the SPU has been unable to conclude a single sale. Who was going to buy abandoned estates that had reverted to bush??Meanwhile, the SPU charges fired workers $500 to fish in the canals.Maybe that’ll compensate for blowing $132 million in interest??…and intimidating the messengerAnswering a question on breaches of the Procurement Law, the Auditor General evidently said, “I believe it’s more frequent now. There are a lot of sole-sourced contracts and every other day you have some issue with breaches of contractual or Tender Board procedures. Even the recommendations for corrective action, most of them are not being implemented.”Well who told him he could offer an opinion on the subject matter of his constitutionally created organisation??!! The Finance Secretary, who’s part of the Finance Ministry, claimed the PPP committed more breaches and lashed out at the AG, PNC style:“I wish to remind the Auditor General that the Audit Office of Guyana is the Supreme Audit Institution of Guyana, it is clothed in Article 204 of the Constitution and is designed as an independent and professional body in the Government accounting chain and therefore, he is best advised to observe the spirit and letter of the code of ethics and auditing standards of the International Organisation of the Supreme Audit Institutions lest he be seen to be guilty of bias, subjectivity and political influence.”!!…and getting huffyThe Finance Secretary neglected to mention the AG’s complaint that details still aren’t forthcoming from him on more than $600 million extended to the Jubilee Stadium!!