Jan 31, 2012 News
Court blocks pile of Kaieteur News from courtroom
Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, could face the heat next Monday in court for claiming
that the government had paid off NIS and income tax for workers who were made redundant when the Linden Mining Company (LINMINE) was privatized.
This was revealed as the libel case brought by former President Bharrat Jagdeo against Kaieteur News Columnist Freddie Kissoon, Editor-in-chief Adam Harris and Publisher Glenn Lall continued in the High Court yesterday.
Kissoon’s lawyer, Nigel Hughes, said that he could provide “evidence” to the court that contradicts what Luncheon said regarding the NIS payments.
Luncheon, under sworn testimony, stated that when LINMINE was privatized, it was found that the bauxite management then had failed to pay “untold millions of dollars” in NIS and P.A.Y.E (Income Tax) to the respective bodies.
Luncheon is the chief witness for the former President.
As part of the deal with workers, Dr Luncheon said that the government decided to pay off the money that was owed to the respective entities, including the NIS (National Insurance Scheme), of which he, Luncheon, serves as chairman.
Egged on by Bernard DeSantos, S.C., the lead attorney for Mr Jagdeo, Luncheon further stated that the government did honour its obligations to make the payment on behalf of the workers.
However, referring to aggrieved workers who cannot get their benefits from the NIS, Hughes said he is in possession of documents from the NIS which has claimed that the workers could not receive benefits because their contributions were not paid.
That evidence from Hughes is to be tendered with Justice Brassington Reynolds for consideration when the case comes up again on February 6.
In October, 2002, then President Jagdeo helped broker an agreement with LINMINE for a separation package for the bauxite workers whose services were either terminated voluntarily or by management.
The agreement was reached between the unions – the Guyana Mining Metal and General Workers Union (GMM&GWU) and the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU) and the government.
According to the separation package agreed upon, LINMINE workers leaving the company will be entitled to payment for six weeks annually for a maximum of two years.
The Government, on behalf of LINMINE, agreed to pay all NIS and P.A.Y.E contributions. The workers were also to receive 10 per cent of their redundancy/severance pay as provision for a training grant.
An estimated 250 workers had opted for redundancy, while another 211 mineworkers were made redundant by virtue of the takeover, at the time, by the Canada-based Cambior.
Meanwhile, the judge refused to admit as evidence a huge pile of Kaieteur News spanning many months.
However, Justice Reynolds said if Jagdeo’s team wanted to press ahead with the articles they would need to show the “particularity” in the articles.
Jagdeo’s team is seeking to tender the articles to prove Kissoon’s malice for the former President.
The Judge, in refusing to admit the newspapers into evidence, said that surely it could not be construed that everything Kissoon wrote in his articles from July 2010 to present day about Jagdeo could be considered malice.
Publisher’s note: The publisher is not sure what message Mr Kissoon was sending to the nation in his Sunday issue. If it is that he is saying that he writes for free in Kaieteur News then he would be misleading the nation. He is paid handsomely.
Even when the newspaper reduced the number of columns he must write each week, it never cut his pay. He has never written a line without adequate compensation.
Although I am out of the country people have been calling me to enqire about Mr Kissoon’s paucity. His being poor is far from the truth. I have repeatedly warned him about using his column to mislead the public.
He is placing this newspaper in an embarrassing position.
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