GGMC illegally transfers $254M transfer from GGMC to NICIL – AFC
The Alliance For Change (AFC) has raised an alarm over a $254M transfer from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) recently, describing it as an outrageous and illegal act by government.
According to AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, the money was transferred two weeks ago to the bank account of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
GGMC is the government’s semi-autonomous agency tasked with regulating the natural resources sector, excluding forestry. It collects royalties, taxes and other fees from gold mining and quarrying activities, among others.
NICIL is the government agency in charge of managing state assets.
According to Ramjattan, the monies should rightly go the Consolidated Fund, where all revenues for the state are controlled.
“To place these monies elsewhere is a breach of financial regulations of the country. The government is fully aware of this.”
Chairing the Board of Directors of NICIL is Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh. He was not immediately available for a comment.
However, a senior official of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, which has the ministerial responsibilities for GGMC, confirmed that the monies have been transferred to NICIL.
The official, who asked not to be named, explained that the money is for the repairs and maintenance of several key hinterland roads…roads that are critical to the mining community.
“The arrangement with GGMC and NICIL for the roads is one that has been around for a number of years now. The monies are intended for the Ministry of Public Works which is the Ministry in charge of the works.”
As a matter of fact, the official insisted, the Cabinet of Government Ministers has given approval and has been giving approval for years now.
NICIL’s handling of state funds has been a simmering one for a while now.
AFC and the A Partnership For National Unity (APNU), two opposition parties in the National Assembly which have a combined voting majority, have clashed with government for NICIL’s millions- proceeds from the sale and privatization of government’s assets.
The Opposition is arguing that NICIL’s funds belong to the state and should be deposited to the Consolidated Funds. These funds have to be approved by the National Assembly before being expended.
However, government is standing by its grounds that NICIL is a private company which does not have to release the monies into government’s central accounting system.
It has been a battle raging for a while in the National Assembly, spurring a number of debates also.
A decision by NICIL to invest at least US$20M into the construction of a partly government-owned Marriott-branded hotel in Kingston, the construction of which is fully under way, has been meeting with rejection by the Opposition.
The AFC leader was harsh on the transfer from GGMC to NICIL.
“Dr. Ashni Singh is the Chairman of NICIL and the Finance Minister as well. He is supposed to safeguard the people’s monies. He knows what should be done.
He described the decision to transfer the $254M as “state thievery” and “outrageous”.
“I am calling on NICIL to come clean in the New Year.
“The PPP is embracing transparency and accountability like a prostitute embracing chastity.”