ON Friday last I attended a Reception by Mr. Brian Tiwarie, head of B.K Group of Companies, to celebrate the expansion of his fleet of heavy-duty trucks and excavators.
During a brief, but impressive ceremony, we were informed that with over US$10 million investment during 2018-2019, the commissioning of a new German Plant at the Teperu Itabu quarry, and the new fleet of Sino-trucks, production at his quarry of boulders and stone would be increased to 100,000 tons per month. This could satisfy the local demand for stone, and would help to lessen reliance on imported stone to fix our porous sea defenses and for construction of new roadways.
A man of few words, “B.K” said in his invitation letter that investment by his companies in a wide range of ventures “is a manifestation of our confidence in the Guyana economy and in the future of our beautiful country”.
As I read those words, I concluded spontaneously that here is a fine example of a Guyanese, patriotic capitalist. Immediately, I asked my office to confirm attendance by my wife and I at the Reception.
It was the first time that I was visiting BK Headquarters at what is described as the “Mudlot”, on the Water Street bank at the mouth of the Demerara River. In fact, I didn’t know that he had an office just a stone’s throw from the Official Residence of the Prime Minister.
As “BK” received us, I lifted my head to take in the edifice before me, and saw inscribed on the building a diplomatic insignia, and realized that this business magnate is also the Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Spain.
At the function, I recounted how I had first met Brian Tiwarie over twenty-five years ago at a popular “watering hole” in Kitty, which was frequented then by some of my former PPP ministerial colleagues. He was sitting unobtrusively on a stool at the bar counter, and when Minister Shree Chand introduced him to me, I almost asked loudly, “Brian who?”
I didn’t know him then, nor could I have imagined that that Brian Tiwarie would emerge not only as one of the most powerful but also among the finest corporate citizens of Guyana.
He has since, under the umbrella of the BK Group of Companies, branched out into stone quarrying, gold mining, marine and aviation transport, construction of all kinds, and in musical entertainment.
Some years ago, when I visited his quarry deep up the Essequibo River, I was pleasantly surprised to see, in a cleared patch, a wide assortment of newly planted trees and colourful shrubs, like an oasis in the midst of a desert of rocks. After a steep climb up the hill, we encountered a mini water fall, which was harnessed to power a small hydro-plant. At that time, it generated power for a few lamp-posts around the desolate quarry site.
That brought out what one of his daughters pointed out on Friday, the side of BK as an environmentalist, and as a corporate citizen who takes certain social responsibilities seriously. He believes, she said, in the Green Revolution and in the vision of President Granger for sustainable development.
There are obviously several such corporate citizens in Guyana who share the benefits of their business with the wider society. A tiny example from BK is the Bartica aerodrome which he constructed as a business investment, but has opened for public use.
Mr. Yesu Persaud, his guru, has been one of the forerunners of our corporate citizens, and his DDL Group of Companies has heavily invested its confidence in the Guyana economy, and has enriched the country’s social and cultural spheres.
There are many others as well that include the Gafoor Group of Companies, A.H & L Kissoon Ltd., Banks DIH, Beharry Group of Companies, Puri’s Torginal Points Ltd., Balwant Singh Hospital Inc., and Toolsie Persaud Ltd that invested in distinct social roles even whilst remaining among the principal captains of Guyana’s industries and services.
A defining role is that of Mrs Amina Gafoor, who has been a doyen of the arts in Guyana over very many, many years.
Today, I salute all of our patriotic capitalists and entrepreneurs who have played a pioneering role in the development of our Guyanese financial and industrial class. Some of them have set their eyes on the new economy and, rather than belly-aching perennially over lack of involvement in local content, they are busy laying the foundation in relevant capacity building for the down-stream infrastructural and business explosion of our oil sector.
This syndrome of belly-aching is also manifest at the political level where the main opposition party, the PPP, has been trying to enlist the justice system in its campaign of subversion against the government. Its latest sortie to get the court to compel the President and his government to resign, was thrown out as an abuse of the process of the court.
What is of interest is that the misguided campaign to unseat the government is piloted by a former Attorney General and a sitting Member of Parliament who, by definition, is a person in public life. He derives a regular, monthly income from the State.
I have been reading a long paper by David Lusty on “Revival of the common law offence of misconduct in public office”, and find that the frivolous and vexatious litigation by this MP constitutes misconduct in public office.
As one English judge has remarked, “ Few are in a higher position of trust or have a duty to discharge in which the public have a greater interest, than Members of Parliament”.
It is a broadly held view that a person who is elected to Parliament is vested by the electorate with powers, duty, discretion or responsibility to be exercised in such a way as to benefit the public, and for a public purpose.
It appears to me, from recent attacks made by this PPP Member of Parliament against the court, that he is using his status for private, partisan political purposes, and out of malice, revenge, and hostility against Guyana’s court of last resort, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), for not making mandatory or coercive orders to dislodge the APNU+AFC Government.
MISCONDUCT IN PUBLIC OFFICE
According to the treatise, the ancient common law offence of misconduct in public office continues to provide a crucial mechanism for preserving the integrity and fidelity of public officials, including Members of Parliament and Ministers of the Government.
But the PPP/MP would remain unfazed even in the face of such erudite learning. He has signaled that he would continue to show disregard for any consequences, believing in his anarchistic notion, that “wha come sah do”. He might appeal the ruling of the Chief Justice, and he would continue to engage in “willful misconduct”.
That, unfortunately, sums up the crass and disrespectful behavior of the noisy, protesting opposition which, as described in a House of Lords case, is “deliberately doing something which is wrong, knowing it to be wrong, or with reckless indifference as to whether it is wrong or not”.
Happy Birthday, Bhaiji Yesu Persaud!