PM to now face questions on who authorised $500,000 housing rental for minister

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo is the next in line to be questioned about funds spent on the rental of houses for government ministers.

Opposition Member of Parliament Anil Nandlall has been attempting since July to ascertain who approved a cap of $500,000 in housing rental from which Minister Simona Broomes has benefitted.

He had previously asked a series of questions titled “Expenditure on Rental of Ministers’ Residences”  of the Clerk of the National Assembly and Minister of Finance Winston Jordan.

At the last sitting of the National Assembly, Jordan stressed that he was not responsible for accounting for these funds.

“All emoluments of Ministers are handled by the Parliament Office. Their salary, allowances, even to the driver are handled by Parliament. The Honourable Member’s questions are ill directed to the Minister of Finance,” Jordan told the House.

In response Nandlall told Stabroek News that he will “resubmit the questions to the Minister who holds line responsibility for the Parliament”, Prime Minister Nagamootoo.

“In refusing to answer the questions which I asked in the National Assembly of the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Finance stated that he is not responsible for the expenditures of constitutional agencies. However, under our constitutional structure every agency funded by public monies must account to the National Assembly in respect of how those monies are spent and Ministers of the Government are assigned line responsibility for these agencies for the purpose of accounting to Parliament on how these agencies expend monies. This is so because these agencies are funded from the Consolidated Fund and the money is disbursed to these agencies with the approval of the National Assembly,” he explained.

Nandlall further noted that “this accounting cycle demands that the expenditure of these funds subsequently be accounted for in the National Assembly.  As a result, this constitutional financial architecture does not permit for a void. So every cent approved and disbursed through the National Assembly must be correspondingly accounted for to the National Assembly.”

The public became aware that properties were being rented for government ministers using public funds after landlord Peter Ramsaroop instituted legal action against Junior Natural Resources Minister Broomes and the Parliament Office for breach of contract. That action has since been withdrawn.

Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs had publicly indicated that an administrative decision was taken to rent the residence for the minister, who is entitled to $25,000 in housing allowance. The rental was for the sum of $500,000 per month. Isaacs, however, is still to identify who made this decision.

He has since indicated that he will no longer be addressing the issue publicly and has also not responded to a request from Nandlall, the PPP/C’s Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, asking for the decision-maker to be identified. As a result, Nandlall took his questions to the House.

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