Serious allegations about racism in Guyana

Guyana's President Dr. Irfaan Ali during his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly.
Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali during his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly.
United Nations
Guyana’s  National motto is One People, One Nation, One destiny. That has been the case for decades, perhaps dating back more than 50 years.
But since becoming president in August 2020, President Irfaan Ali has amended this to a” One Guyana” Motto, even organizing a slew of national events under this amended motto.
But now, two studies done by a prominent Guyanese group led by respected Attorney Nigel Hughes are painting a picture of national and racial harmony that is way different from the concept being promoted by the Ali administration.
According to the studies, Guyanese of African descent who make up about 34 percent of the national native population of about 800,000 are being abjectly ignored and marginalized in the award of state contracts and other high earning projects.
Most of the billions being dished out to contractors, be it local or foreign,  are being handed to Guyanese of Indian descent, foreign groups collaborating with Indo Guyanese or even Indo Trinidadian contractors. The study even highlights some cases where Afro Guyanese contractors have been given a sizeable bite of the national pie in joint ventures with Indian counterparts.
“There is clear evidence of ethnic discrimination in the award of tenders in Guyana,” said one study, pointed to data it said it had obtained from the National Procurement and Tender Admnistration (NPTA).
“Companies owned or operated by Guyanese of Indian descent are awarded contracts at a rate far exceeding their representation in the broader demographic statistics of the country. Additionally, this pattern is even more evident when the dollar value of the contracts is considered,” the report stated.
For his Economy and Justice in Guyana study, Hughes who is being touted as a possible opposition coalition consensus candidate for the 2025 elections, said he had drawn serious and deliberate discrimination conclusions after examining contract awards in several areas. These include housing, road construction and construction of state buildings across the country.

“There is urgent and immediate need for redress including the cessation of future awards until a comprehensive plan to arrest this disproportionate and unfair allocation of state resources,” he said.

“The recent revelations disclosed by the analysis have confirmed what has long been suspected by several persons.”

Arriving at basically the same conclusions, the studies contend that companies owned or operated by Guyanese of Indian descent “are awarded contracts at a rate far exceeding their representation in the broader demographic statistics of the country. Additionally, this pattern is even more evident when the dollar value of the contracts is considered.”

One of the reports noted that 56.9% of contracts awarded were to businesses owned or operated by Guyanese of Indian descent while 72.8% of the total dollar value of awards went to businesses owned or operated by Guyanese of Indian descent.

Additionally, 10.4% of contracts were given to entities owned or controlled by Guyanese of African descent. A mere 7.1% of the total dollar value of awards went to businesses owned or operated by Afro Guyanese, while contracts were awarded as much as five times more to contractors of Indian descent as their Afro colleagues.

The latest revelations come just weeks after the US government has through its Guyana mission called for greater inclusiveness in national affairs, a point that has not been lost on critics of the administration.

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