OP’s control of Lotto fund circumvents Parliament’s Authority
– Former Auditor General Dr. Goolsarran
“I am very passionate about the Consolidated Fund because that is where all public monies should sit….and the Lotto money is public money.”
By Gary Eleazar
Former Auditor General Dr. Anand Goolsaran has defended his critique of Former Minister of Legal Affairs, Charles Ramson’s pronouncement of Office of the President’s oversight of the proceeds from the Lottery.
Dr. Goolsaran had recently reiterated his position that the 24 per cent proceeds from the Guyana Lottery Fund for which the Government has received several billion dollars should be turned over to the Consolidated Fund where it would be subject to Parliamentary Scrutiny.
He says that OP’s action is tantamount to circumventing Parliament’s authority.
Goolsarran is on record as saying that Ramson’s advice on lotto monies not being paid into the Consolidated Fund is “very flawed.”
He had further said that had he still been Auditor General he would have disagreed with the advice and hoped it would have been reconsidered by Ramson.
Ramson had advised current Auditor General Deodat Sharma that there is no legal basis for government’s portion of the Guyana Lottery Company’s revenues to be paid into the Consolidated Fund.
In defence of his pronouncements the former Auditor General told this publication yesterday that, “I have a strong view on it…I am very passionate about the Consolidated Funds because that is where all public monies should sit and the lotto money is public money.”
Dr. Goolsarran, in responding to those that have chided his position saying that he is no lawyer and as such cannot pronounce on a legal ruling made by a Senior Counsel who was also at the time Attorney General, said that he is knowledgeable on public finances and public administration.
Dr. Goolsarran qualifies his pronouncement firstly with his background as Auditor General and adds that this has led him to have a clear understanding of public finances.
The former Auditor General also said that he considers himself a ‘quasi lawyer.’
He says that even though he is not a qualified lawyer he has undertaken a significant amount of law studies because, “as Auditor General you have to know the law….I may not be a qualified lawyer but as Auditor General you have to know the Law.”
He explained that as Auditor General he had to be aware of public finances and the principles that govern public financing.
Dr. Goolsarran also said that Ramson had referred to an outdated law when he pronounced that OP was within its jurisdiction to oversee the management of the lotto funds.
He said that Ramson was speaking about legislation from the 1960’s when Guyana had a National Lottery Control Committee.
Dr. Goolsarran explained that one major difference is the fact that during the 1960’s, the government of the day had managed the Lottery as against present day circumstances where the lottery only pays government proceeds.
He said that at that time it was the government that had to make the pay-out so it would have made sense at the time to have the fund administered exclusively by Office of the President.
“You have a different scenario now where the government is not involved…it is a private arrangement.”
He said that the 24 per cent which is paid over to the government is akin to a ‘license-fee’
Dr. Goolsarran reiterated that the gravest implication of having the monies controlled by Office of the President is the lack of Parliamentary oversight.
“Parliament is not approving of this expenditure,” said Dr. Goolsarran as he drew reference to lotto funds and reiterated, “all public expenditure has to be sanctioned by Parliament.”
Dr. Goolsarran served as Guyana’s Auditor general from 1990 to 2005 before migrating overseas and has since returned home.