Housing Minister insists he did not break the law
…PNCR to take up matter in Public Accounts Committee
By Gary Eleazar
Housing and Water Minister Irfaan Ali is maintaining his innocence insisting that at no point in time did he breach any of the provisions of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.
Ali in an invited comment told this newspaper that he stands by his remarks made in the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, leader of the Parliamentary Opposition and the People’s National Congress Reform, Robert Corbin, blasted the Housing Minister saying that, “the arrogance displayed in the National Assembly by Government Ministers, particularly by rookie Minister of Housing and Water, Irfaan Ali, as Government unilaterally passed $8 billion in supplementary provisions for 2009, cannot and will not be accepted by the PNCR.”
According to Corbin, “the Minister of Housing, in his ignorance, believes that the additional expenditure of $4 billion sought for the housing sector could be justified by broad explanations of providing 17,000 house lots for Guyanese…Political expediency cannot be a substitute for accountability and transparency.
Corbin stated that the $4 billion was being sought in addition to the $430 million, which was originally allocated for housing development in the 2009 budget, and Ali stated that the money was being used to facilitate the government’s plan to provide 17,000 house lots to Guyanese in need, in the various regions.
Corbin said that the absence of detailed project profiles, outlining how the money would be spent, however, provides another opportunity for corruption, as the Assembly would be in no position to monitor how such a large sum is being spent.
Corbin on behalf of his party called on the Auditor General, who he reiterated is empowered by Law, to immediately undertake an audit of the relevant Ministries and provide a report to the Public Accounts Committee.
This report will form the basis for any punitive action that may be necessary for breaches of the relevant Laws.
“The PNCR will be pursuing this matter through the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly.”
Corbin reiterated that the consideration of Financial Papers presented under the Supplementary Appropriation (No.3 of 2009) Bill 2010, totaling $8,245,758,278 failed to provide details for the use of the funds and the timing of the spending of those resources.
“It was evident that the Finance Ministry had breached the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act, which specifies the procedure for the withdrawal of money from the Consolidated Fund for use by the Government…The Act specifies that any such withdrawal requires the relevant Minister to come to the National Assembly immediately after such withdrawal is found necessary for approval.”
Corbin posited that the limited and evasive answers provided to the questions from opposition members were intended to obscure those breaches.
“The ignorance or disregard of Minister Irfaan Ali of the Law requires an immediate response from the Auditor General whose Office is required to investigate such flagrant breaches of the Financial Regulations of Guyana.”