Sunday, November 20, 2011

PPP/C govt had earmarked funds for CJIA upgrade in budget

The headline of yesterday’s Kaieteur News screamed across the width of its front page: “Govt signs secret deal to expand CJIA runway”.
Its lead paragraph suggested insidiously: “An unspecified deal for which a Chinese bank is putting (sic) US$138 million (G$27.6 billion) has been signed to expand the country’s lone international airport, but the Guyana Government has not said a word of the deal.”
The imputation is clear that the government had some surreptitious hidden agenda to keep the deal from the public gaze.
The SN, to its credit on this occasion, dealt with the news less sensationally: “Chinese company to build modern CJIA terminal, extend runway”.
But in the body of the story, it took pains to note: “The government made no announcement of the award prior to the report in the Jamaican newspaper, which said that the agreement was signed last Friday.”
Neither paper evidently thought it fit to suggest that since the agreement was signed less than a week ago, the government may have had procedural reasons (such as Cabinet scrutiny and approval) or others, to hold off on the announcement.
Additionally, in line with its paranoia, the KN claimed that the government “moved to block the (Chinese) company from releasing any further information” when the same article later quoted the Chinese official as saying “… the Guyana government would release… information to the media here.”
On one hand the KN is accusing the government of withholding information and then simultaneously not accepting its right to release such information.
As a point of fact, the extension of the CJIA was mooted in the budget when it was presented to Parliament way back on January 18 of this year. As we reported on February 3, “the state earmarked the sum of G$178 million to start preparatory work on designing an extension to the CJIA airstrip by 3500 feet to accommodate the Boeing 747- 400 aircraft.” The government was determined to make CJIA “a hub for international traffic”.
On April 21, we reported, “The Bharrat Jagdeo administration has begun discussions with the government of India for a possible line of credit to fund massive modifications and upgrade of Guyana’s main port of entry, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA)… Speaking at a recent forum at the International Conference Centre at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, President Jagdeo told the gathering about plans to triple the size of the CJIA.”
It is obvious that the government has been engaged in negotiations with both India and China for this massive upgrade in our international connectivity.
The government should be given time to inform all parties and not damage relations. We call upon our colleagues in the press to shelve petty personal issues and report for the national good.

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