PM, Housing Minister could face jail time if Ramjattan has his way
Following Monday’s ruckus in the National Assembly where the Opposition locked horns with the ruling administration over two supplementary provisions that were already spent and approval was being sought after the fact, Alliance For Change Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan has commenced a campaign to have the Prime Minister and Housing Minister charged.
Speaking with this newspaper yesterday, Ramjattan said that after being persuaded not to pursue the matter as an attorney but rather the chief witness, he has since secured the services of eminent chartered accountant, financial analyst and now attorney at law Christopher Ram.
Ramjattan said that he is also seeking to retain the services of prominent Criminal Attorney Nigel Hughes and possibly attorney Stephen Fraser to add to the team of lawyers in pursuit of having Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and Housing and Water Minister Irfaan Ali, brought to justice for an alleged breach of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.
The saga started in the National Assembly when according to Ramjattan, the Prime Minister and Ali failed miserably to explain the breaches.
Ramjattan said that he will also be going after the Public Service Minister, given that she had spent monies in October and was supposed to have reported back to the house on the very next sitting but did not do so until last Monday.
Ramjattan said that her excuses in the House on Monday were flimsy to say the least, adding that the Public Service Minister had adequate time to report the spending, coupled with the fact that she knew about the need for the expenditure for a long time before it was necessary and as such did not need to have a supplementary provision.
He said that he was confident in the team of lawyers that he will be amassing and the letters to be dispatched to the Director of Public Prosecutions that he spoke of in the House will now be sent by them, and he will be the chief witness.
Only recently, the AFC leader Raphael Trotman had called for the DPP’s Office to be more vigilant and proactive in pursuit of prosecuting public officials that misuse tax payers’ money.
According to Trotman, the DPP is independent of the state and must be able to investigate breaches of the law wherever they occur and prosecute.
The Fiscal Management and Accountability Act of Guyana states, at Section 85 “An official who – (a) falsifies any account, statement, receipt or other record issued or kept for the purposes of this Act, the Regulations, the Finance Circulars or any other instrument made under this Act; (b) conspires or colludes with any other person to defraud the State or make opportunity for any person to defraud the State; or (c) knowingly permits any other person to contravene any provision of this Act, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable on conviction to a fine of two million dollars and to imprisonment for three years.”
Another section of the very Act also stated, “A Minister or official shall not in any manner misuse, misapply, or improperly dispose of public monies.”
Section 49 of that Act also states, (1) If a loss of public monies should occur and, at the time of that loss, a Minister or official has caused or contributed to that loss through misconduct or through deliberate or serious disregard of reasonable standards of care, that Minister or official shall be personally liable to the Government for the amount of the loss.
(2) Where the misconduct or disregard of the person is not the sole cause of the loss referred to in subsection (1), the person shall be liable to pay only so much of the loss as is just and equitable having regard to the person’s share of the responsibility for the loss.
(3) If a loss of public monies should occur and, at the time of that loss, a Minister or official had nominal custody of such monies, that Minister or official shall be personally liable to the Government for the amount of the loss.