Brassington to meet with press on NICIL
Amidst growing calls for Government to bring more disclosures on the affairs of the National Industrial
and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL)– the government holding company– the ruling administration yesterday said that it is prepared to answer any question.
As a matter of fact, NICIL’s head, Winston Brassington, is preparing to sit with reporters to speak of the transactions of that Government-owned company, says Attorney General, Anil Nandlall.
NICIL has been coming under increasing fire with more questions asked after it was announced that hundreds of millions of dollars may be invested in a planned Marriott Hotel.
Other transactions like the Sanata Complex deal and the sale of several parcels of Government lands and of Duke Lodge, Kingston, have been questioned by the Opposition.
Recently, the Opposition claimed that there was over $50B in NICIL’s coffers, a claim which has been denied by Government.
Speaking on the issue also yesterday, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, said that Brassington will soon be speaking on NICIL and its transactions. He also slammed public statements by Khemraj Ramjattan, Parliamentarian for the Opposition’s Alliance For Change, who was accused of starting the $50B “rumour”.
“I have absolutely no difficulty in identifying that $50B in liquid cash in the coffers of NICIL is a figment of Ramjattan’s imagination.”
According to Luncheon, theoretically the assets under NICIL could add up to $50B but this will have to include both movable and immovable and other properties.
The official also hinted of the possibilities of NICIL’s regulations or articles of incorporation being reviewed and amended.
Meanwhile, according to Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, who is also the Chairman of NICIL, the opposition and its commentators are attempting to use the government company to whip up a storm in a teacup and generate hysteria.
“The fact is NICIL is a registered company. NICIL is audited by the Auditor General. Financial statements are tabled in Parliament.”
Singh insisted that NICIL had even held a special forum to clear the air on its transactions.
Regarding the “$50B” that NICIL is supposed to have in its accounts, as claimed by the opposition, the Minister said that figures were never substantiated and could not stand up to the first round of scrutiny.
NICIL’s transactions are transparent with tenders advertised, opened publicly and then awarded through a due process system before being publicly announced, he said.
Despite this, there are still questions and controversies.
“Were a question to be asked properly in Parliament, we would answer them as we have always done in the public domain.”
According to the Attorney General yesterday, he spoke to Brassington who said he is willing to even speak to watchdog body, Transparency International on NICIL.
“He told me that he spoke to Kaieteur News as well… to Mr Glenn Lall and that he is prepared to attend an interview and answer any question on any deal that Kaieteur News may have reservations about.”
Yesterday, during a press conference also, AFC said it wants a smooth transfer of money in NICIL to the Consolidated Fund.
“Recent statements by the President and Ministers trying to explain why they are not handing over the money from the NICIL account into the Consolidated Fund are quite ridiculous. The highest law of the country, the Constitution, makes it quite clear that all money, all revenue, raised or received by Guyana shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Fund.”
AFC reiterated that failure to hand over the money from NICIL is a blatant breach of the constitution and unlawful.
“The AFC has explained that the money in the NICIL account belongs to the people of Guyana – not the government, not the opposition, but, all the people and as such it must be in an account where the representatives of the people can have oversight. That account is the Consolidated Fund.”
By keeping the money in the NICIL account, AFC said that the government has left the door open for speculation as to what is happening with this money.
“We have a situation where billions of dollars belonging to the people of this country are not being accounted for. This is a dangerous situation which has gone on for too long and one which the government should be working to rectify.”