Around $175 million has been spent by the APNU+AFC government on completing 11 Commissions of Inquiry (CoIs) and in one case the Chairman alone collected a $4.8M pay cheque, the National Assembly was informed on Thursday.
PPP/C MP Gail Teixeira had submitted a number of questions about the CoIs and Minister of State Joseph Harmon provided the written answers at Thursday’s sitting. The parliamentary opposition had repeatedly said that there was too much secrecy surrounding the cost of the inquiries. As a result, Teixeira asked about the status of the CoIs and whether preliminary and final reports had been submitted, and the costs, including payments to each Commissioner.
According to Harmon’s response, the 2015 inquiry into GuySuCo was completed and the final report was submitted on 28th September, 2015, to Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture. The total expenditure was $51,844,239, which included $1.980 million that was paid to the Chairman and $1.8 million each for the two commissioners. The final report was presented and laid in the National Assembly on 30th December, 2015. The wisdom of the expenditure will be queried as the government did not abide by the key recommendation of the report that no sugar estate be shut.
With regards to the 2016 CoI into the Public Service, Harmon said that it was completed and the final report submitted on 13th May, 2016 to President David Granger. A total of $40,173, 981 was spent, inclusive of $550,000 for the chairman and $500, 000 for the other commission members. The report was presented to the Speaker of the National Assembly on 18th May, 2016.
Harmon informed that the CoI into the March 8, 2016 disturbances and resultant deaths at Camp Street was completed at a total cost of $12,299, 087 and the final report submitted on 31st May, 2016 to the president. The Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson, was paid $500,000 and the commission members $350,000 each.
The preliminary report of the 2016 education CoI was submitted to then Minister Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine on May, 2017. The Ministry, according to Harmon, is still awaiting the submission of the final report. The total expenditure is $26,743,300, inclusive of $4.8 million paid to the chairman Ed Caesar and $2.4 million to the other members.
According to Harmon’s answer, the CoI into the fire at the Drop-In Centre, where two children died, incurred a cost of $1,358,062, including the $350,000 paid to the Chairman. The report was submitted to the National Assembly on 12th October, 2017.
The CoI into the conditions and benefits of veterans, which commenced on November 4, 2016, was completed and the final report submitted to the Minister of State on 3rd March, 2017. The total expenditure, which included $750, 000 paid to the Chairman, was $14,831,520. The report was submitted to the National Assembly on 12th October, 2017.
Harmon stated that the CoI to investigate, examine, probe and report on the circumstances which led to the collapse of the mining pit and death of Keon Wilson began in October 2016 and ended on November 15, 2016. A total expenditure of $5,196,912 was recorded including $750,000 paid to the Chairman. The report was submitted to the National Assembly on 12th October, 2017.
The 2016 CoI into allegations made by Barry Dataram against CANU et al was completed and the final report submitted. The total expenditure was $1,091,674, including $500,000 which was paid to a commissioner. Harmon stated that this final report will not be made public and brought to the House because it is “a national security matter.”
With regard to the CoI into the discovery of a foreign aircraft from Colombia near to the village of Yupukari, in Region 9, which commenced on November 16, 2016, Harmon informed that it had been completed and the final report submitted on 25th November, 2016 to the Minister of State. A total of $8,355,114 was spent but no money was paid to the chairman, retired Brigadier Edward Collins. The report was submitted to the National Assembly on 12th October, 2017.
The CoI into the interception and subsequent release of an unarmed private maritime vessel in the sea space of Guyana between 11th and 14th February, 2017 was completed and the final report was submitted on 31st May, 2017 to the Minister of State. The total expenditure was $8,262,179, inclusive of $550, 000 paid to the chairman and $500,000 to the member. This report will also not be made public or brought to the National Assembly because of its security nature.
The CoI into the attempted assassination of the president, held in July this year was completed and the final report submitted to the president on August 31, 2017. The total expenditure was $5,403,737, which includes the $500,000 paid to the Chairman. The report, Harmon said, was submitted to the National Assembly on 12 October, 2017.
No information was provided for the lands CoI as it is ongoing. No information was given for the CoI into the Public Service Commission as the matter is the subject of a High Court matter. Harmon did not provide any information on the conflicts at the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority and allegations surrounding procurement at the Ministry of Public Health as neither was a CoI.