The report on the inquiry conducted by Major General (Ret’d) Joe Singh on allegations of misconduct against two Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) directors will be discussed with the GNBA Board and before a decision is made on the way forward, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has said.
“I intend to meet with the board and deal with the recommendations that were made and we will take it from there,” Nagamootoo said on Friday when asked for an update on the issue.
He said he hoped Cabinet members would have an opportunity to pronounce on the report as it had been given to them for perusal before he left the country for India last month.
“The report has brought out some very significant shortcomings in this important authority that has very critical functions to perform but has been caught up in the quagmire of interpersonal disputes and allegations and confrontation that do not help the people of this country,” Nagamootoo said.
Singh was selected by government to investigate the allegations of misconduct made by broadcaster Kenwin Charles against members of the GNBA Board, Anthony Vieira and Vic Insanally.
He was given the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the inquiry by Minister of State Joseph Harmon and was told that he should submit his report to the Prime Minister by the end of last month.
The move by the Prime Minister for an independent investigation came last month, shortly after GNBA Chairman Leonard Craig announced that the board would be investigating Charles’s allegations against Insanally and Vieira.
Craig, in a statement, had said Charles, of Northwest TV Inc, an unlicenced operation, asked to meet with him to highlight several concerns. “At that meeting he made a complaint essentially accusing Mr Anthony Vieira and Mr Victor Insanally of trying to improperly force him out of doing business on the Essequibo Coast where he had made significant capital investments,” Craig had said.
He added that Charles also indicated that he had met with the Prime Minister and a similar complaint was lodged. “I gave him every assurance that his matter will be given urgent consideration and that I will address this matter with the Board as soon as he makes a formal written complaint,” he added.
However, Insanally and Vieira subsequently sent Craig a lawyer’s letter, warning him to desist from repeating “false” allegations made by Charles, while adding that they will be seeking damages for him publicising them. They also called on him to apologise.
Charles was also sent a lawyer’s letter by the Board members’ attorney CV Satram, calling on him to retract his statements and issue an apology to the duo or face civil proceedings for damages.
Nagamootoo explained that he had collected the report but since he was leaving the country the next day, he took the decision to leave copies with Cabinet members so that they could weigh in on the matter, “while I would have my copy on the plane” and would study it.
“Upon my return, I learned that sections of the report, or perhaps a copy of the report, had been leaked to the media and there had been selective extracts, purportedly from the report, commenting on the issues… because of… that… I believe that it had become incumbent upon me to circulate the report to all the media houses so that they have the report in their hands and can treat it with fairness and balance… in a way the evidence suggests it be treated,” he added.
As at Thursday of this week, the Prime Minister said, he had contacted one of the members of the board and conveyed his intention to have the report be given to the Chief Executive Officer of the GNBA and also to members of the board. He stated, “I am also starting initially by giving copies to Mr Vieira and Mr Insanally because they are the two who were named…. I have also commenced a process so that the report can be sent to Mr Craig, the chairman of the board, who I understand is in China, [and] who has not sent a resignation to me up to the point I am speaking. I think it would be in fairness to him that he should receive a copy, but the secretary of the board was out of the jurisdiction and would be returning Sunday [today].”
A matter that the board would have to deal with also would be selecting a new Chairman given that Craig is no longer in the jurisdiction.
“After I would have had a feedback, I intend to meet with the board as well because of course another vacancy is now created if the chairman demits. As far as I am aware, the chairman is out of the jurisdiction, that would also require some evaluation as to what happens when a chairman leaves the jurisdiction and to all practical purposes, cannot carry out the functions of chairman of the GNBA,” he added.