Police silent on Ashni Singh spending complaint

-Ramjattan expects response this week

There has been no word from the police on the complaint filed by Khemraj Ramjattan regarding the alleged illegal spending by Finance Minister Ashni Singh and the AFC leader said that he expects a public response from the Guyana Police Force this week.

When contacted, Crime Chief Leslie James was unable to provide information on the issue. He told Stabroek News that to give an update he would have to make contact with his superiors. He said too that he has not spoken to Ramjattan about the matter.

In an invited comment, Ramjattan said that he expects the police to publically respond to his complaint this week, failing which he will take the appropriate action. He disclosed that he has since learnt from police sources that it has been realized that the Minister has done a “big wrong.” The AFC leader said that given the nature of the matter – that it was a “big wrong” and that the minister holds a senior position – the sources have related that the matter has to be analyzed thoroughly as it is “no ordinary matter.” He stressed that he has been told that the matter will take some time to be analyzed.

Ramjattan added that he was reliably informed that the issue has left the minister “very scared” and he is now laying the blame at the feet of Attorney General Anil Nandlall.

The move to file the complaint came after it was found that government had spent more than $4.5 billion of the $37.4 billion cut from this year’s $220 billion national budget. Singh, on June 19, tabled Financial Paper 1 of 2014 seeking the approval of the House for the extra-budgetary spending. However, this quickly attracted the ire of the main opposition APNU as well as the AFC who have labelled it illegal.

In a nine-page Complaint and brief to the police, Ramjattan wrote that he was making a formal complaint and report that Singh and other officials in his Ministry have committed a violation of the provisions of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act 2003. The minister, he said, has spent monies without having obtained legislative authorization and he and other officials in the relevant ministries have expended $4.533 billion up to June 16th, 2014. This, according to Ramjattan, constitutes a misusing, a misapplication, or an improper disposal of public monies.

Quoting Section 85 which says: “An official who knowingly permits any other person to contravene any provision of this Act is guilty of an indictable offence and liable on conviction to a fine of $2,000,000 and imprisonment for 3 years,” the AFC leader said that criminal liability can therefore befall the minister and those under him if it is determined that they went against the above-mentioned legislation.

Ramjattan, in the document, also told the police that Singh breached Article 217 which outlines all the conditions under which funds are to be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund. He also quoted other sections of the Constitution in an attempt to validate his position.

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