Review of CJIA contract a national duty – Speaker Trotman
By Gary Eleazar
While the Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman, by himself, cannot launch a Parliamentary investigation into contracts issued for the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) he opines that such a review is a “national duty.”
According to Trotman, while as Speaker he will not be able to initiate such action, he believes that elected representatives (the members of Parliament) should consider this.
He said that Members of Parliament (MPs) have mechanisms available to them for such a review (speaking specifically of the Economic Services Committee), and added that the MPs can call for a Special Select Parliamentary Committee with a specific mandate.
Asked about adherence by the Government to opposition motions such as the one up for debate today and related to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Trotman said, “I can’t speak specifically to any single motion, but the Parliament is the highest forum of the land and its resolutions ought to be respected and adhered to by all.”
The Speaker said that the Parliament is quasi-judiciary and the legitimacy and efficacy of the 10th Parliament will be tested by the opposition motion as it relates to Government’s adherence.
Shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge’s motion petitions the Parliament to have the Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, firstly set aside monies to fund an independent financial probe of the state’s holding company.
The Guyana Government, through Dr. Singh and Chief Spokesman Dr. Roger Luncheon, has already indicated an unwillingness to entertain an independent probe of NICIL, but this is not deterring Mr. Greenidge in his quest.
That motion will be debated today in the House and Greenidge has premised his demand with the fact that “Guyanese are concerned about the widely reported acts of lawlessness in the guardianship of our national resources and assets as well as the lack of transparency and accountability associated with the disposal of those assets.”
As such, he is seeking to have the Parliament direct the substantive Ministers (Dr. Ashni Singh and Juan Edghill) to “make financial provision for the urgent commissioning of an independent financial audit of the operations of NICIL and the Privatisation Unit.”
The former Finance Minister is looking even before monies are allocated for the probe, to have the Minister turn over all documents in relation to privatization deals undertaken by Brassington.
Greenidge has repeatedly condemned the current operations of NICIL, to the point of calling it a “slush fund” for the administration.
As such, Greenidge wants “all the fiscal concessions, including duty free concessions, granted in response to specific requests or as part of contracts awarded by the Tender Board and the criteria on which these awards were based, to be placed before the National Assembly for review.”
He is also seeking to have the Ministers “lay in the National Assembly for review and where applicable, for ratification, all international agreements, (including mining agreements involving the award of state lands and fiscal concessions), signed by the Government since 1st January, 2000.”
Among other things, Greenidge is seeking to have the Ministers clearly outline what criteria were used for the disposal of the state assets by NICIL through the Privatization Unit.