Hire-car driver unaware he is still employed, paid by NCN
- massive malpractices being unearthed at state-owned entity
Amidst revelations that a senior official of National Communications Network (NCN) was sent home
Friday pending an investigation into discrepancies with the accounts, there are reports that all is not well with that state-owned company.
There are growing concerns over the apparent mismanagement and how monies are being spent.
The alleged wrongdoings have reportedly stretched to the New Amsterdam, Berbice operations.
In one case, a driver who was reportedly hired by the New Amsterdam operations and whose name was given as Zabarally Armogan, left in December yet his salary was still being sent monthly to that Berbice station. The cheque was being cashed and pocketed by a senior official there, it was claimed.
Kaieteur News started the investigation after being told that the NCN headquarters, which prepares salaries, was deliberately not informed that the driver had stopped working.
Investigations by this newspaper into this particular case have pointed to a cover up in progress.
The Human Resources Department at NCN Georgetown confirmed that Armogan is still working at NCN New Amsterdam. He is on a month to month contract, an official said.
Armogan confirmed that he stopped working as a driver in December. He had been hired for elections work by the operations there. He is now daily working his hire car in the New Amsterdam area.
A female who would answer the phone at the Berbice location during working hours would consistently claim that Zabarally was “on the road”. Yet later that evening, staffers working the night shift would say that the NCN New Amsterdam location has no driver.
One male operator (name given) was unsure who Zabarally was.
The station is being managed by Faizal Jaffarally, a Parliamentarian of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic.
There are other allegations of financial wrongdoings by NCN New Amsterdam. One particular incident in recent times that stood out has to do with the coverage of cricket games, including IPL and the West Indies tour of England.
Advertisements being placed by major companies are supposed to be shown in Berbice as they were being paid for. However, a staffer at the New Amsterdam station has claimed that orders were given to remove these paid advertisements and for the slots to be sold to other advertising businesses in Berbice. The monies from this were pocketed.
Businesses who placed their ads thinking they would be shown in New Amsterdam were being robbed of their monies’ worth.
The microscope was placed on NCN after startling revelations were made in Parliament that the network, which controls the country’s only radios and a number of TV stations with coverage in all three regions, raked in more than $500M in revenues last year. Yet it was depending on subsidies from government. This year’s $80M subsidy was reduced to $1 by the two opposition parties in Parliament during the recent budget debates. Both parties cited a heavy bias by NCN towards government and called for reforms.
Recently, the Board of Directors reportedly requested financial statements for several contracts with large advertisers, including the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T).
In addition, there are claims to cases of conflict of interest with at least one relative of a senior NCN staffer working at an advertising agency and yet drawing commissions for ads placed with the network. There are also allegations of advertising monies being misappropriated and non-existent staffers on the payroll.
On Friday, Production Manager, Martin Goolsarran, was sent on leave pending investigation.
Also under probe is Chief Executive Officer, Mohamed Sattaur.
The investigations are being headed by Board Chairman, Prem Misir. Goolsarran’s job would be performed by Michael Gordon, who is now Programme Coordinator.
Some of the payments claimed have no supporting documents.
Another part of the investigation has to do with a female who is associated with a very senior official and who operates her own advertising department. The investigators say that this woman has been running her own operations by way of advertisement diverted away from NCN and then returned to allow for her to attract a commission.