Court action over the Marriott could permit critical information to be subpoenaed

Dear Editor,

To my mind, the usefulness of court action in the NICIL/Marriott case is that it could, the law allowing, permit that certain critical information be subpoenaed and hence exposed to public examination.

I refer to the statement in the Kaieteur News of October 5 in which APNU’s shadow minister Joseph Harmon says legal remedies are also a possibility at the disposal of the Guyanese public. In my comment published here last week I referred to court action that could compel NICIL to disclose the content and the intent behind the announced sale of 67% of the shares in Marriott to an investor so far anonymous.

Mr Harmon’s initial reaction to discussion of legal action was ambiguous. He has now explained that APNU prefers to see the results of a parliamentary motion that calls for audits and hence full dislosure of NICIL’s operations. Mr Harmon is one of those politicians whose intelligence and probity I find reassuring, but I must confess to scepticism about the government’s response to the motion in light of past history.

What is important is the subpoena of the sale contract that is to be signed with the investor. Does it provide for the offer of any re-sale of shares to first be made to the future minority shareholder? Common in this type of deal. Or does it conveniently permit the new majority shareholder to unburden himself of a  large block of shares at a profit for which we Guyanese will pay? What do the hotel company statutes/articles say about majority shareholding powers? How is the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act to protect us from the kind of manoeuvre to which we fall victim? Why has APNU/AFC not prepared themselves to protect us? The legal and parliamentary practices of our politicians need to change. To be updated. In the world of business and major projects the well-worn pathways lead to nowhere.

President Ramotar has said that Mr Winston Brassington, head of NICIL, is exposed to flak, unfair in its target and spiteful in its intensity, as he assiduously labours to bring us bigger and better projects. Mr Brassington’s motivations should best be judged by an open examination of NICIL’s methods. That is all. In the world of business in which he wades, and major projects, the well-worn pathways have, it is said, led to the bank accounts of the corrupt and the unconscionable. Things need to change. Transparency and rigour in management hurt none. When the laundry is washed Mr Ramotar will be the first to thank those who put his government beyond the pale of suspicion. He will admit that, the aura of corruption hanging over it, change can only benefit.

Yours faithfully,

Abu Bakr

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