Joe Harmon challenges figures paid to ‘fat cats’
The Guyana Government has paid to state-owned National Communications Network (NCN) some $8.7M between April 1 and July 18, this year for advertisements airing lamentations relative to the effects of the budget cuts. This information was supplied to the House by Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh.
He was at the time responding to A partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) Joseph Harmon.
The APNU Executive Member requested the information of the Minister, by way of a Parliamentary ‘Question on Notice.’
Harmon responded to the Minister’s answers yesterday, and told this publication that what had prompted the question was the fact that the government with alarming frequency had been lamenting the fact that there were people about to lose their jobs as a result of the budget cuts.
Harmon said, “We knew that this was not true and therefore I framed two questions.”
The first of the questions posed by Harmon, related to names, salaries and designations of persons that had their jobs terminated as a result of the budget cuts.
Harmon reminded that he had specifically requested the information pertaining to whose job had been terminated as a result of the budget cut.
He said that the information provided by the Minister on that occasion, provided a list of persons who had “difficulty accessing” their salary.
According to the APNU Executive, “I take that to mean that no services were terminated.”
Harmon lamented, too, that the Minister never addressed agencies such as CANU and the State Planning Secretariat.
He said that his second request of the Minister was to determine what level of State Resources was being used to “perpetuate an obvious lie”. He said that “in effect state resources, the people’s money is being used to perpetuate an obvious lie.”
Harmon said that while the Minister didn’t answer his specific question, the answers have made several startling revelations.
“I am happy that it came out and people can see what Government is doing with our money… It has exposed the manner in which State Resources are being used for political work being done by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) from Freedom House.”
Harmon was adamant that Guyanese citizens “ought to be incensed about this waste of resources, about the manner in which national patrimony is being doled out.”
He said the monies are doled out to persons “who are retired, tired, retired and tired and not in a position to do anything but just because were faithful servants we continue to give money from national patrimony.”
The first time Parliamentarian who served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Guyana Defence Force reminded that many of the persons still being paid by Office of the President particularly are already entitled to various pensions.
“They are getting all of these things and on top of that you saying look some more money here…It is ridiculous.”
The APNU Executive is now even questioning the credibility of the information that has been presented by Dr Singh as it relates to the salaries.
On Wednesday last when the information first surfaced in response to Harmon’s question it had been significantly different to the information eventually sanctioned for use.
The initial answers that had been circulated listed salaries to the tune of millions for some persons. One known Freedom House worker had even been listed as being paid from state funds for his services.
“I really do believe it’s the true response…the second response took the salaries way down.”
According to Harmon, a perusal of the two different sets of information on the salaries supplied, would see that what was finally sanctioned for use had sections of information such as provisions for allowances being removed.
“In the second report there is bit of information left out to create an impression that this is really the true position.”
He said that several facets have to be taken into consideration and explained that when a person is handed a salary, aspects such as a state vehicle with state funded gas and driver must be accounted for.
“The figures that the Minister gave initially are the real figures but it so embarrassing that he says use something else, because it will incense this whole country as it ought to…Money is coming out of the national resources to pay these lackeys,” charged Harmon.