Ramotar defends NICIL hoarding $$$B
“We are not doing anything illegal as far as that is concerned… None of it is misappropriated and it is audited,” Ramotar
By Gary Eleazar
The Opposition concerns regarding billions of dollars being held in special accounts in the name of the
National Industrial Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and not turned over to the nation’s coffers are seemingly without merit.
At least, this is according to the Head of State, Donald Ramotar, who yesterday said, “I have heard the (opposition) arguments and I am not convinced.”
The President says that as far as he is aware he is not doing anything illegal and NICIL is not breaching the law either.
“We are not doing anything illegal as far as that is concerned,” said Ramotar when asked to respond to increased criticism in recent weeks.
The President said that it is not a case where none of the money ever reaches the Consolidated Fund. When dividends are declared these are paid into the Consolidated Fund, he said.
The President was also adamant that NICIL’s accounts are audited.
President Ramotar said that one of the main concerns relates to the monies held by the Privatisation Unit.
This body is a component of NICIL and responsible for the disposal of state assets. According to the President, the account for this component of NICIL which deals which the largest portion of the money, has been audited.
He said that the audits have been completed up to 2010 but explained that some of the other entities that fall under NICIL are still lagging behind. The result is that the complete report for NICIL is yet to be tabled.
Speaking to some of the problems that would have delayed the reports he said that court litigation in some cases following privatization has hampered the process.
“That’s why some of them have not yet been completed,” said Ramotar and added that “the main area you talk about has been audited.”
The President was adamant that there is a misguided view circulating that the money has somehow been misappropriated.
“None of it is (misappropriated) and it is audited,” said Ramotar.
When pressed on why all of the money is still not being turned over to the Consolidated Fund the President said, “We don’t have to do that because the law allows NICIL to keep that money.”
Ramotar’s comment follows a threat by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to move to the courts to force NICIL to have the money placed in the Consolidated Fund.
Alliance for Change Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan has alleged that NICIL could be in the possession of some $50B.
The most recent report available for NICIL is for 2003. At that time there was some $30B in revenue for that year.
In that report by the company’s Executive Director, Winston Brassington, stated in 2002, that having regard to accounting conventions and financial reporting standards, a decision was made to have NICIL comply with such corporate governance strategies “culminating in this Annual Report — the first set of consolidated accounts for the Company.”
He said that the issuance of consolidated accounts for NICIL, as a parent company, is dependent on the completion of the audits of its subsidiaries.
He said that the challenges faced to achieve the milestone stemmed primarily from the poor level of preparation of accounts by the subsidiaries coupled with the slow pace of audits generated by the Audit Office of Guyana.