Summary dismissal of GNNL Finance Controller was perverse

Dear Editor, 

In January 2018, the Government of Guyana passed the so-called “Whistle-blower” Law because they want to be associated with the philosophy of “combating corruption by encouraging and facilitating disclosures of improper conduct” from the public sector and private sector officers.  A week ago, the Attorney General of Guyana urged whistleblowers to come forward with information to his office so that they can be investigated.

 Therefore it is shocking to have read on September 10, 2018, that Ms. Moshami Ramotar (no relations to Donald Ramotar I can confirm), a trained accountant, who has served in that role for many years, was fired on the spot over an allegation that she whistle blew on some alleged massive acts of corruption.

 What kinds of people are running the corporate affairs of the Guyana Chronicle? Whatever happened to due process? Summary dismissal of an employee and more so a very senior employee, should only be proceeded with most carefully and only in exceptional circumstances.  With the perception hanging over this Granger Government that it practices “ethnic preferentialism”, it is important that cases like this be handled judiciously, cautiously and competently.  A person can only be summarily dismissal where that person has taken part in extreme activities like: 

•  fighting at work or other adverse deliberate behaviour that can cause imminent and

    serious risk to their colleague’s health or safety;

•     theft;

•     fraud; and so on. 

Let us assume that the Finance Controller is guilty (I have no evidence to arrive at such a conclusion but let us humour the General Manager [on probation]), why was a Hearing Committee not established to fully ventilate the issue? And even if that Committee found the Finance Controller guilty, the first step is not to summarily dismiss.  Skilled Human Resources Practitioners will advise that, firstly you evaluate that person’s personnel file to assess its quality.  Based on that assessment and the findings of the Committee, you then decide whether the person should be issued with a stage one penalty (warning letter) or a stage two penalty (suspension letter).  Only if the presented evidence unearths activities of an extreme nature do you move to a stage three penalty (summary dismissal).  

But again I have no evidence to prove that the Finance Controller is guilty and until she is proven guilty she must be treated as innocent. Did the General Manager (GM) not learn in his law studies the concept of  – ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (“the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies”)?  Or is this plain old fashion bullyism?  

Those who are pushing this dismissal letter have missed the entire point and I wonder to what end. The Finance Controller does not have an allegation of misappropriation of public funds hanging over her head. Why has the Chairman of the Board not asked the person who is being accused of public squander to recuse himself from the corporate affairs at the Guyana Chronicle until this allegation can be fully investigated? 

I am however grateful for the fact that the Hon. Prime Minister has intervened and reversed this improper decision. But notwithstanding the reversal of this impertinent decision, I am now calling upon the Auditor General of Guyana to swiftly examine the books of the Guyana Chronicle to detect if the financial regulations of Guyana were broken in the pursuance of an agenda to set up a so called Social Media Unit. 

Yours faithfully,

Sasenarine Singh

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