The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) board yesterday requested that government fire Commissioner Rickford Vieira, even as the country’s leading miners’ group announced that it had no confidence in Board Chairman Clinton Williams.
A plan to move a vote of no-confidence against Williams did not materialise when the board met yesterday, but the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) did write to government and indicate that it would boycott board meetings under his chairmanship.
The board, meanwhile, in the absence of the GGDMA representatives, decided to seek Vieira’s removal.
“The board today, by majority, requested that Vieira’s services to the GGMC be terminated. He will have two options—one, resign and be able to keep whatever benefits or play hard ball and stay and be fired and get nothing, simple,” a source yesterday told Stabroek News.
There has been ongoing strife at the GGMC, with Williams coming in for strong public criticism over the board’s advancing of a no-confidence motion against Commissioner Vieira. It was exacerbated when details of Williams’ spending as Chairman were made public coupled with other alleged wrongdoings.
Stabroek News reported earlier this week that Vieira was among four senior GGMC officials who were facing dismissal and Williams had said some decisions were being contemplated following internal inquiries and a systems review.
He said that it was up to government to decide what would ultimately happen.
Yesterday, at the meeting that was chaired by Williams, this newspaper understands that the board deliberated on the fates of the four GGMC employees and could not come to a unanimous decision.
However, four members, including Williams, proposed that recommendations be forwarded to government, which includes having the Manager of the Mines Division transferred to the Guyana Mining School and Training Centre to serve as a teacher as they believe that he does not understand his current duties or what was expected of him.
A recommendation was also made for the Manager of the Geological Services Division to be sent to teach at the Mining School as he had been operating in a capacity “above his competence and expertise.”
As for Vieira, some members of the group said he should be fired immediately and acting Commissioner Newell Dennison should replace him.
Their charge against Vieira is that he acted in dereliction of his duties as regards mines safety concerns and the provision of support to officers in the field. He is also being accused of bringing the board into disrepute by disagreeing and disassociating himself with the board and its decisions in a public place.
Stabroek News understands that the disagreement referred to had to do with Vieira objecting to the plan to transfer over $3B in funds from the autonomous agency to the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) earlier this year.
The controversial scheme by the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic government was declared ultra vires and null and void by acting Chief Justice Ian Chang in May after a legal challenge was mounted by the WPA’s Desmond Trotman.
Sources say from then on relations between Williams and Vieira took a turn for the worse.
Further, the board alleges that Vieira has disregarded its lawful instructions.
Meanwhile, the GGDMA yesterday indicated to government that its representative on the board would not be present at meetings chaired by Williams as the body had no confidence in him. “The Guyana Gold & Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) has taken the decision that our representatives on the Board of Directors of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) shall take no part in meetings chaired by Mr. Clinton Williams,” a letter from the GGDMA that was also sent to Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman said.
“This decision (the move against Vieira) by the Committee of Management of the GGDMA is as a result of our position in supporting a vote of no confidence in Mr. Clinton Williams as Chairman of the Board, GGMC,” it added.
Trotman, who has responsibility for the mining sector, has not commented on the situation.