I’m proud to be a hustler, I’ve been a hustler all my life” make no mistake about it; Robert Badal is embracing his very essence with this statement.
Loathe as I am to address the subject of Badal and his ambitions, I have stated previously that all comers to the arena should be examined carefully given what is at stake. Badal put money into the AFC and reaped billions in rewards when the APNU/AFC were elected in 2015, not content however, Badal is now seeking direct access to the Treasury. The audacity is only matched by the greed. This examination of Badal and his history of political involvement is long overdue.
Entry into the political arena late in life by a wealthy person usually signals one of two things; a desire to give back to a society or hubris, the ultimate ego trip. Very rarely is it naked avarice as is the case with the man from ‘Change Guyana’. Badal came to prominence during the period of PPP governance, Badal became wealthy ‘hustling’ in the enabling business environment made possible by the PPP’s move away from the socialist policies of the PNC. Badal parlayed a packaging and export of rice to Jamaica into the basis for him acquiring controlling interest of Guyana Stockfeeds Inc. from NICIL during the privatization drive.
Badal then began to hustle in earnest; he incorporated a company in Trinidad, with the same name—Guyana Stockfeeds Inc. then started using the Trinidad Company to conduct billions of dollars of transactions on behalf of the Guyana Company. This underhanded action was a convenient means to impose transfer pricing and cream away profits from Guyana. There was the case where a ship sailed from the USA with a cargo of corn; half was for Badal and half for another customer. When the customs invoices were compared, Badal’s was valued and taxed at half the rate of the other shippers. We are talking equal-halves, not APNU math halves, GRA goes after people selling cook-up but wouldn’t investigate potentially billions evaded through transfer pricing and under-invoicing of its cronies like Badal.
In 2000, Badal made a Rights Issue and Bonus Issue, diluting NICIL’s shareholding from 38% to 7%. The PPP government took him to court to protect the country’s interests. In Sept 2008, Justice Jainarine Singh issued a decision that rendered that issue illegal, null, and void; Badal appealed and when the matter came on for hearing in 2017, the Court of Appeal ruled in Badal’s favor. At the time of hearing of the appeal, NICIL was under the control of the APNU/AFC Government. No appeal of this strange ruling was made by NICIL. Badal had gotten his returns for his investment in AFC, he had profited by billions from a big hustle. But this was only one area of profit.
With the apparent defection from the AFC evidenced by the formation of his party, Badal invoked the wrath of Winston Jordan who publicly declared “Mr. Badal has benefitted from billions of dollars of tax incentives. Billions of dollars. I’m now asking my people to total up how much are these concessions, but I know they run into billions of dollars” the wisdom contained in the phrase ‘When THIEVES fall out, honest men come by their own’ is timeless. Badal is building apartments and a conference center, those billions in concessions were meant for hotel developers. There are now questions of how, when and why these concessions were made.
Badal has never demonstrated any care for people, his callous disregard for the welfare of sugar workers that lost their livelihoods and are seeking to transition into other areas of the workforce is telling as would be a conversation with anyone who works at his hotel. Badal is a habitual Union buster, he removed Union representation at Guyana Stockfeeds, NEOCOL, and the Pegasus when he assumed control. Badal is anti-worker and pro-Badal, I shudder to think of a Guyana with Badal as a Member of Parliament, who would he claim to represent?
Could Badal even claim the support of those who are making well-staged endorsements of his candidacy? An examination shows that they are hustlers like him; a shoplifter and a ‘fowlcock’ from Essequibo, both of whom have not relinquished their current political affiliations and have signaled no intent to so do. It seems Badal the hustler is getting out-hustled in this bigger arena.
Badal is described as a ‘Hotel owner’ and it is instructive to examine how that occurred for it was not a straight deal. The Pegasus was bought by Sahara, described at the time as a consortium led by Badal (none of the other members were ever disclosed) from Starman Hotels. Starman was paid a deposit and then had to threaten legal action before a compromise agreement was reached. Badal’s mysterious partners in the consortium all vanished and he became the sole owner of the hotel. The AFC promised $9000 a bag for paddy in 2015, Badal was instrumental in those false promises; he is making a long list of promises in 2019/20. For Robert Badal, every day is another opportunity to hustle; for me, Badal evokes Mother Goose’s cautionary tale:
oThere was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile. He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse, And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
Elections are on the 2nd Of March 2020.