… transfer to treasury done at the discretion of the Directors – Brassington
Executive Director of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington, appeared on the State-owned National Communications Network (NCN) last evening and declared that the monies in NICIL accounts belong to NICIL.
Brassington was at the time being interviewed by former beauty queen, Olive Gopaul, who was told that while there is no obligation placed on NICIL by the Constitution of Guyana to have its monies turned over to the Consolidated Fund; it is done at the discretion of NICIL’s directors.
The Directors at NICIL at present include Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, Dr Roger Luncheon and Marcia Nadir-Sharma.
Brassington, during the televised interview, reminded that NICIL is a company incorporated under the Companies Act and as such the Directors can treat with its profits like any other company.
He reiterated that the monies or dividends earned through NICIL are paid to the Consolidated Fund at the discretion of the Directors.
The Executive Director of NICIL said that the manner in which the company operates is as a result of how it was established by the People’s National Congress in 1990.
He said that the PNC went to great pains to establish the modus operandi for NICIL which he says in essence, is a Holdings and Investment Company.
“There is a list of about 21 things which the company can do,” said Brassington.
The NICIL Executive Director reiterated, as had been pronounced on by the Head of State Donald Ramotar and the Finance Minister Dr Singh, that there is no requirement by law for the money held by NICIL to be put into Consolidated Fund.
He said that the laws provide for NICIL to hold the funds and for dividends to be declared at the discretion of the directors.
“Distribution of profit is at the discretion of the directors,” said Brassington. Interim dividends can be declared, he added.
He however continued to stress that it is not mandatory to put the money in Consolidated Fund.
In expanding his interpretation of the independence of NICIL and the monies it controls Brassington explained to Gopaul that “the monies in NICIL accounts belong to NICIL.”
He said that any “asset or money we receive has to be accounted for in the books of NICIL.”
Brassington opined that should this not happen and the monies be turned straight over to the Consolidated Fund and bypass NICIL, then it would be a violation of the company laws.
He was adamant, however, that there are occasions where the monies in NICIL accounts are turned over to the Consolidated Fund. Over the years this money has amounted to more than $20B.
Speaking to the lag in the books for NICIL, Brassington lamented the situation and blamed the Audit Office and its constraints, coupled with the fact that some of the subsidiaries of NICIL have also lagged behind for various reasons.
“We have no choice in picking the auditor…It is set out in law and in law we have to submit everything to be audited…we prepare our financial statements,” said Brassington who was adamant that the Financial Statements for up to 2010 have been completed and the audit opinion should be completed in two months.
He said that in any given year there are about 14 companies that would fall as a subsidiary under NICIL saying that at one point there were as many as 20 companies that were subsidiaries of NICIL.
Some of the companies known to be subsidiaries of NICIL include The Guyana National Newspapers Limited, publishers of the Chronicle, NCN, GUYOIL, National Edible Oil Company, Guyana National Printers Limited, Linden Electricity Company, and Guyana National Shipping Corporation. It has shares in several other companies including Guyana Stockfeeds Limited among others.
Brassington also reminded that the first set of Consolidated Accounts for the NICIL group was only completed three years ago and this was for the year 2002.
He said that the remaining audited reports should be completed shortly.
“We don’t make the accounts public until they are audited,” said Brassington even as he expressed optimism that the AG will complete its audits shortly and, “a lot of this will be behind us.”
He chided the opposition saying that there are several parliamentary avenues which could have been explored to gain information but none has been used thus far.
According to Brassington, “There are many ways to get the information they are seeking but we have to be guided by what the laws state.”
The NICIL Executive Director maintained that he is willing to cooperate and answer any question and make information available in the interest of transparency but, “we have to be guided by the laws that deal with disclosures… I will fully cooperate in answering questions provided that they are within the law.”
He said that the opposition critics are engaging in nothing but “political theatrics.”
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