Gov’t hiding NICIL $50B, says AFC

-to move for parliamentary probe

The Alliance For Change (AFC) yesterday accused the government of locking off more than $50 billion through holding company NICIL and declared that the opposition will use its parliamentary majority to ensure this matter is investigated fully.

“Reputable sources have analyzed that over $50 billion of the people’s money is supposed to be in the NICIL account and many more billions are being held in other accounts under the control of the PPP administration,” the party’s chairman Khemraj Ramjattan said, reading from a prepared statement during a press conference at the Sidewalk Café.

Ramjattan said that as a consequence in excess of $50 billion has effectively been cut from the 2012 National Budget by the PPP/C government. This money, which is being held in the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Ltd (NICIL) account, he argued, is “money accrued from the sale of assets” that were owned by the citizens. ”As a result, the money should have been placed in the people’s treasury. Instead, the government which authorised NICIL to act as the ‘sale agent,’ has [funnelled] the money in an account under their control. This has resulted in a situation where the elected representatives of the people cannot monitor or even question how the money is being used,” he noted.

Khemraj Ramjattan

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh defended NICIL’s modus operandi and stated it was in compliance with the Companies Act. “NICIL’s operations are completely consistent with what is provided for in the Companies Act and one cannot argue that NICIL funds should come into the Consolidated Fund and not argue the same for any other government company,” he added, saying there are several other companies that are state-owned that operate under the Companies Act and conduct their activities, including retaining revenues and meeting their costs. “NICIL is no different in this regard,” he further emphasised.

Asked yesterday if there was any evidence to support the AFC’s accusation, Ramjattan replied in the affirmative. He told reporters that “there is supporting documentation which will be revealed by one of our advisors.” He pointed out that among the sums being referred to is the US$25M from the sale of GT&T shares, sale of lands to the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry and several other transactions that amounted to billions of dollars.

He said that at one time, NICIL produced annual reports, the last being in 2003 when it was recorded that the revenues in the NICIL account amounted to some $33B. He said that another piece of supporting evidence is “the tight lip of the Minister of Finance and also Mr. [Winston] Brassington,” the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NICIL.

Ramjattan continued that their silence is evidence that NICIL is in possession of huge sums of money. “That is why they are keeping it away from the public scrutiny, particularly the parliament’s scrutiny,” he added.

He said too that other experts are saying that the amount being questioned is far more than $50B.

Moses Nagamootoo, an AFC executive member later said the government has publically acknowledged that there is a sum of $50B in the NICIL account and the question now is how these monies would be divested. He noted that stakeholders who are the people of Guyana are being denied the benefits of this money.

“We will demand that NICIL through the government should give a full account of every transaction of NICIL, every divestment, every property sold. To whom and for how much and then we will see who the beneficiaries of the sums are,” he said. He added that everybody knows who is benefiting from the NICIL funds. He went as far as to say that who will benefit from the construction of the controversial Marriott Hotel is known to some.

Ramjattan said that the process of establishing the Economic Services Committee of Parliament had started in view of the High Court’s recent ruling that the Committee of Selection as currently composed is legal and lawful. He said that now “we will have to make a further amendment to the Standing Orders. Right now the Standing Order has the Economic Services Committee should have four members from the government side and three members from the opposition side. There is a motion in Parliament to reconfigure that that the opposition will have four members and the government will have three members and so you will have a 3:3:1 scenario.”

He expressed the firm belief that APNU will support their approach that after the reconfiguration is completed “we then call the very first investigation under that Economic Services Committee it will be NICIL. We will order papers and documents and even the Minister of Finance to come and answer questions.”

Ramjattan stressed that the party’s assessment of the situation could be wrong but noted that “it is enlightened guess work because the honesty is not forthcoming from the government. So we are going to pressure them and that is the function of a scrutinising opposition.”

Latest in Local News

default placeholder

Gov’t sets out bid protest procedures

Following the setting up of a Bid Protest Committee (BPC), the Ministry of Finance today unveiled the procedures that bidders who are dissatisfied with how a contract has been awarded, must follow to have the award reviewed.

default placeholder

Eye care specialists to meet in Barbados next month

Eye care specialists from across the Anglophone, Dutch and Spanish-speaking Caribbean, North America and Europe will converge in Barbados in July for the 27th Congress of the Ophthalmological Society of the West Indies (OSWI).

default placeholder

Cases being built against drug kingpins

Outgoing Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy here, Bryan Hunt has urged patience as it relates to indictments of local drug barons saying that cases are being built in the background that can guarantee convictions.

St Paul’s Anglican Church in Aurora

Aurora Village (Part 2)

Things in Aurora Village are much livelier than in Aurora Estate. Women walk in and out of the health centre with babies hanging from their hips; policemen stand outside the police station bracing against a wooden rail as they talk amongst themselves and shouts of chatter from children playing fill the air.

A Cessna 206 – the model of the planes flown out of Eugene F Correia International Airport, at Ogle yesterday

Probe launched into illegal Cessna flights from Ogle

The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) yesterday launched an investigation into the illegal flights of two aircraft from the Eugene F Correia International Airport, at Ogle, East Coast Demerara.

default placeholder

Broke City Hall seeks gov’t bailout

Debt-ridden City Hall has approached the government for a bailout after undertaking several Golden Jubilee projects it did not budget for.

Trevon Thomas

Youth of Guyanese parentage dies in BVI boat accident

A young man of Guyanese parentage died tragically in Tortola, British Virgin Islands around 10:00 hrs yesterday when the speedboat he was in hit rough waters and capsized.

Two of the better appointed stands at D’Urban Park (Stabroek News file photo/Keno George)

D’Urban Park bleachers to remain

The bleachers at D’Urban Park will not be dismantled as originally intended as government intends to preserve and improve the area and turn it into a facility for public events, President David Granger has said.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: