Auditor General Deodat Sharma, according to President Bharrat Jagdeo, may have overstepped his remit when he recommended the reinstatement of some officers in the report into the Polar beer scam.
Paul Prescod, Acting Director of the GRA Valuation and Classification; John Tularam, Level II Customs Officer; Nityanand Narootandeo, Entry Processing Unit Supervisor; and Rohan Beekhoo VAT and Excise Deputy Commissioner, were recommended for reinstatement with attached warning letters demanding that they be more vigilant in the execution of their duties.
Royan Sattaur, a Level Two Clerk, and Acting Director Enforcement Section, Ramnarine Makardajh, were all recommended to be fully reinstated back in their job.
According to the President, that decision of reinstatement will have to be taken by the GRA Board of Directors.
The task force had also recommended that GRA officers — Michelle Matthias-Smartt, Rhonda Gladd, Karen Bobb-Semple, Ausya Greenidge, Satesh Basdeo, Anthony Girdhari, Rabindra Ramsuran, Sadesh Pitamber, Vickie Sooknanan, Radha Singh, Ann Noel, Simone Herod, Jasoda Mohamed, Georgeanna Pryce-Roberts and Roopnarine Ramkishun — be charged criminally for the relevant offences they had committed. The Director of Public Prosecutions is yet to pronounce on the specific charges.
As it relates to the other recommendation by the task force, Khurshid Sattaur, Commissioner General of GRA had said that the report was some six months late, in that all of the recommended measures, excluding the reinstatement of the officers, have already been implemented.
Meanwhile, the President is also still optimistic that there will be an investigation into the assets of the implicated Customs Officers.
When Jagdeo first announced the scrutiny of the assets of the officers he had noted that the AG’s report was missing a crucial term of reference that he had required in that he wanted the assets of the delinquent officers assessed.
Jagdeo told media operatives that he was advised by Sharma that another agency should be responsible for the assessment of assets of Customs officers. However, the law gives the Auditor General the power to conduct such investigations. The President was adamant that “it is one thing to look at the current incident but when you look at assets and how the assets accumulate,” then that is a whole other issue.
He said that if people were not able to properly account “for their assets then they have a lot to answer for”.
The president was insistent that the assets analysis component of the investigation be fulfilled.
He had also said that if the capability was not available locally then the audit office should seek external assistance and the Government would foot the Bill.
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