Lotto funds again on radar of public accounts body

Members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday raised concern about the Audit Office’s finding that the Finance Ministry failed to pay government’s share of 24% of the proceeds of the Guyana Lotteries Fund to the Consolidated Fund.

This particular issue has been highlighted in the Auditor General’s report for many years and had been stressed on many occasions by former Auditor General Anand Goolsarran.

Yesterday, as the PAC considered specifics of the Auditor General’s 2010 report on the Finance Ministry, the issue was once again a contentious one.

Anand Goolsarran
Anand Goolsarran

Representatives from the Ministry, led by Finance Secretary Neermal Rekha and Accountant General Jawahar Persaud, as in previous years, argued that the Government’s share of the proceeds from the Guyana’s Lotteries is kept in special account, outside of the Consolidated Fund, as per the advice of a former Attorney General (AG) Charles Ramson. The advice was given around 2005 but not agreed with by Goolsarran.

Present Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, though he also flagged the practice as a problem in 2010 report, said that he was considering how to approach the matter since it was a former Attorney General who advised for the proceeds to be kept separate from the Consolidated Fund.

Alliance for Change (AFC) MP Trevor Williams came alive during the consideration of this matter, slapping his table and waving his hands as he expressed his disbelief that this matter remained unresolved. “The laws are clear,” Williams shouted. He said that the proceeds of the Guyana Lotteries are state funds, and told the committee that all state funds, according to the constitution, are to be stored in the Consolidated Fund.

“Eh eh, yuh wake up boy,” exclaimed Govern-ment Whip Gail Teixeira, reacting to Williams’ antics. Both Teixeira and People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) MP Manzoor Nadir laughed as Williams continued his arguments.

Both of them asked him to quote the legislation which contains the provisions he spoke of, and told him that he is uninformed on the laws.

Meanwhile, committee Chairman Carl Greenidge told Sharma that he is not bound by the former Attorney General’s advice. The AG, he explained, is government’s legal advisor, and has no place offering advice for an autonomous body such as the Auditor General’s Office.

Greenidge told Sharma that he should seek independent advice, since though the AG’s competence is not questioned, his giving such advice constitutes a conflict of interest.

Greenidge has been at the helm of the opposition parties’ – the Alliance for Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) – bid to have money accumulated via Guyana Lotteries channelled into the Consolidated Fund. The opposition parties charge that the separate account, like several others, is being kept that way so as to ensure government maintains unchecked, unscrutinized access to funds

Just last year, Justice Diana Insanally dismissed legal proceedings brought by Senior Counsel Miles Fitzpatrick and Attorney Christopher Ram on behalf of APNU MP Desmond Trotman which challenged the constitutionality and legality of government’s placing of Lotto money in the Development as opposed to the Consolidated Fund.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who represented Government, had said that “The court, in dismissing the matter, found that the deposit of the monies in the Development Fund of Guyana (Lotto Fund) is in accordance with Article 216 of the Constitution, the provisions of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act and the Lotteries Act, thereby vindicating the government’s position.”

Latest in Local News

default placeholder

Stealth flight plane grounded in Anguilla

One of two planes that left Guyana illegally under the cover of darkness on Saturday has been given clearance to leave Anguilla and the other was grounded in the British overseas territory, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson has said.

The remains of the home Satesh Jagmohan was occupying when tragedy struck

De Willem teen burns to death in house fire

A 19-year-old labourer perished in a mysterious fire which destroyed a two-bedroom house in the De Willem, West Coast Demerara (WCD) squatting area on Saturday night.

default placeholder

ExxonMobil set to drill more oil wells

American oil firm ExxonMobil will be drilling more wells after an appraisal well confirmed the presence of a significant deposit of oil in the location close to where the first well was drilled.

default placeholder

Implement anti-discrimination laws quickly – outgoing US Embassy Deputy

It is important that Guyana move quickly to enact anti-discrimination laws as discrimination and homophobia “is a very real problem” for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LBGT) community here, outgoing Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy here, Bryan Hunt has said.

Ishaan Caines

Coverden cop dies in Bamia accident

A police rank died on Saturday afternoon after he lost control of the car he was driving and it flipped over in the vicinity of the Bamia Creek on the Linden/Soesdyke highway.

A section of the gathering (Ministry of the Presidency photo)

Protected zones to be set up in all 10 regions

President David Granger on Friday said that protected areas will be established in all 10 regions of the country. The Ministry of the Presidency said in a release on Saturday that he was speaking at the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana’s (THAG) President’s Awards Ceremony 2016.

default placeholder

GPL invites bids for 11 MW Anna Regina plant

The Guyana Power and Light is inviting bids for the construction of an 11 MW plant at Anna Regina on the Essequibo Coast and one for 5.5 MW at Canefield on the East Berbice.

default placeholder

Waste management soaking up BV/Triumph NDC funds

Waste management is taking up over 50% of the revenues of the Beterverwagting /Triumph Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and councillors who were elected at historic local government polls are now confronting problems which have led to frustration with one already contemplating resignation.


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: