Leader of the Opposition, Brigadier (Rtd.) David Granger has lambasted the Government for its inability to effectively tackle the drug trafficking problem in Guyana and bring an end to the out of control crime situation.
In his presentation to the National Assembly during Tuesday’s budget debates, Mr. Granger said the PPP administration has failed to put in place proper public security measures and the result is that drug running and money laundering are fueling the local economy.
“Narco trafficking is the engine of growth that is driving this country’s high rates of money laundering, high rates of gun running and execution murders and armed robberies”, Granger said. He also pointed out to the National Assembly that the country’s security problem is what is turning away foreign investors.
He said “violent crime, not Kaieteur News, not Stabroek News, violent crime is what is scaring away foreign investors, driving away the educated elite, undermining economic growth and impeding social development”. In the past, the Government has sought to blame the media and its coverage of crime and criminality for foreign investors not being attracted to the Guyana shores.
Guyana has seen a steady increase in violent crimes, murders and robberies over the past three years. Additionally, there have been several drug busts in Guyana and outside of Guyana that are linked to drug pushers in the country. Granger believes that the security crisis in Guyana cannot solve itself.
He said the Government needs to implement and put in place new strategies to tackle the security problem, but instead citizens are forced to deal with “the same old PPP” and its old policies.
The Opposition Leader said the drug trade has resulted in the drug lords using their wealth to ensure their interests are taken care of and they have also used that wealth on the political side.
He said too that money laundering is an area that must be given serious attention. Money laundering legislation has been in place in Guyana since 2009 but there have been no charges filed against anyone since the law was passed. Moves are now afoot to amend the money laundering bill in keeping with international requirements.
The Amendment Bill is currently before a Special Select Committee in the Parliament. Several deadlines have already been missed for its implementation. The Government has been accusing the Opposition of not wanting the legislation in place, but the Opposition parties have been pointing out that they want to present a clean bill to the National Assembly for its passage. The combined Opposition parties hold the majority in the National Assembly.
Mr. Granger told the National Assembly that “money laundering associated with narco traffickers also distort the domestic economy by pricing their goods and services below market rates and this undermines legitimate businesses.”
The Leader of the Opposition said the budget offers nothing new to the people of Guyana and if the Government were serious about offering “A Better Life for all Guyanese, in keeping with the budget’s theme, it would have reduced the Value Added Tax and the Income Tax. He said the 2014 Budget if left in its current form, will instead offer “A Bitter Life for All Guyanese”.