Time for direct action by taxpayers against NICIL
…Company now designed to deliberately disguise billions-Greenidge
By Gary Eleazar
The time has now come for the taxpayers of Guyana to take direct action against the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
This is the opinion of Shadow Finance Minister, Carl Greenidge, who says that NICIL is now designed to deliberately disguise billions of dollars which essentially belong to the people of Guyana.
He says that the government’s arguments that NICIL is registered as a company under the Companies Act and as such there is no requirement for the company to turn its money over to the Consolidated Fund, holds no water.
Greenidge says that this assertion by the Government is ludicrous, given that at the end of the day it is the government that owns NICIL and ultimately will decide what to do with the funds it controls.
He noted that NICIL is now designed in such a way that billions of dollars belonging to the people of Guyana are now being deliberately withheld by the administration to do as it pleases.
Greenidge was adamant that when the company was conceptualized, it was meant to manage the residual assets of the state as a result of privatization. He explained that this meant that in cases where a state entity would have been sold, the land would have been retained by the state and a dividend paid for shares held in the disposed company.
It is this that NICIL was supposed to manage, according to Greenidge, and he called it “a far cry from the situation that currently exists”.
The former Finance Minister points to the fact that there are now companies that fall under 100 per cent ownership by the Holding Company, which he says is a practice that must cease.
He said that while A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) will “keep up the pressure,” private stakeholders and ordinary taxpayers must mobilize and take action against the company.
Greenidge pointed to court action and said that while this could be a tedious task, it will be assisted by garnering as much information as possible on the affairs of NICIL.
He said that given the sloth of the court system, APNU will be moving straight to the legislative arrangement, and will have the House amend the relevant laws to ensure that the monies being held by NICIL, be turned over to the Consolidated Fund.
NICIL is currently headed by Winston Brassington, Marcia Nadir-Sharma, Dr Roger Luncheon and Dr Ashni Singh, all of whom hold key posts in the institution.
This publication has reported that as of December, 31, 2003, NICIL owned and controlled several major companies. They also controlled monies earned from the Privatization Unit, through the disposal of State Assets, which includes revenues earned from transactions such as the sale of the Sanata Complex at Industrial Site. This asset was acquired by Queens Atlantic Investment Inc.
The subsidiary companies that NICIL controls include Guyana National Newspapers Limited, publishers of the Chronicle, NCN, GUYOIL, National Edible Oil Company, Guyana National Printers Limited, Linden Electricity Company Inc., and Guyana National Shipping Corporation. It has shares in several other companies including Guyana Stockfeeds Limited, among others.
Brassington has argued that the money controlled by NICIL is less than the $50B being bandied about and has promised to come clean on the accounts.
The 2003 report for NICIL points to some $30B in revenue while the following year’s report shows a decline by $4B.