*NICIL footing the bill- Ramjattan
*APNU moving to court- Harmon
While Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS) Dr. Roger Luncheon says that the contractors currently working on the Specialty Hospital are doing so for free, the Opposition is convinced otherwise.
Opposition Leader, David Granger told the media yesterday that he is yet to see or hear of a contractor who works for free. While, leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan said that he don’t believe, for one bit, what the HPS tried to convey.
Work on the Specialty Hospital which is to be funded by an Indian line of credit has gone beyond the sum fortuitously voted for it during last year. The joint Parliamentary Opposition was against it but funding was approved when A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament, Volda Lawrence took “ill” just as the vote was to be taken. With her being absent, Government had the majority in the vote.
Dr. Luncheon told media operatives on Thursday last that the contractors are currently using in-pocket monies to carry out works on the site. This, he said, ranges from labour to the procurement of materials.
The HPS said that “all workers (contractors and those attached to subvention agencies alike) have worked, and continue to work with the expectation that sooner or later, sooner rather than later, they will be paid…not only those at OP those at CJIA and Specialty Hospital, they all continue to work with an expectation that they will be paid.”
The Cabinet Secretary said that there has been no paperwork for such an agreement between Government and contractors.
Ramjattan told Kaieteur News that his investigations revealed that the contractors are being paid up to date. He said that they are being paid directly through National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL). “So don’t let them bring that nonsense to us,” said the politician.
While Granger was more diplomatic about it, he too expressed the belief that the contractors are being paid through NICIL.
He told the media that he cannot imagine any contractor working with such conditions, “we don’t buy what they are saying about it”.
Granger charged media operatives to bear in mind that “this Government runs two budgets.” He said that much of the revenue from royalties in mining, forestry, revenues from lottery and the sale of state lands don’t ever go to the National Assembly and is not entered into the Consolidated Fund.
Granger said, “The Government has a large volume of money which it can spend without the permission of the National Assembly. I don’t know where the money is coming from but I am yet to see a contractor work for free. The money is going to come from somewhere where the National Assembly doesn’t control.”
The Alliance For Change had, from the inception questioned the contract for the construction of the Specialty Hospital. Later, it questioned the financing of the works ongoing at Turkeyen where the Specialty Hospital is to be erected.
Ramjattan told the media that he would have tabled, in the National Assembly, questions that will compel the Government to say where the money is coming from to pay contractors.
A Motion on NICIL taken to the National Assembly by the Shadow Finance Minister, Carl Greenidge was passed since 2012.
Greenidge’s motion on National Assets, in particular those controlled by NICIL sought a resolution directing the Ministers of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh and Bishop Juan Edghill to make monies available from the coffers for an independent audit of NICIL.
It was also designed to direct Dr. Singh and Edghill to hand over, a number of pertinent records and policies on the state assets that have been disposed of/sold by the Government through NICIL.
As he presented his motion, Greenidge told the House that a significant amount of national resources is being managed by NICIL, hence his Party’s call for the House to make arrangements for “an independent financial audit of the operations of NICIL as well as the Privatization Unit.” Greenidge said several billion dollars in assets have been passing in and out of the NICIL accounts.
APNU’s Parliamentarian, Keith Scott, in amplifying the Opposition arguments said, “Leaders who are tasked with managing the resources of a nation are required to do so with transparent and full accountability.”
But Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh rubbished the resolution clauses in the motion, describing them as vague, “fundamentally flawed and without reasonable basis.”
Ramjattan, on the floor of the National Assembly told the Government, “If there is nothing to hide, then show us the books.” He said that the rancor which was generated as a result of the motion demonstrated unwillingness on the part of the Administration to provide the details requested.
APNU had long contemplated court action over the actions of NICIL, but waited on the Parliamentary procedures to kick in before having to resort to the judiciary.
Efforts to contact Greenidge yesterday proved futile but his colleague, Joseph Harmon told Kaieteur News that nothing has been adhered to. He said it is high time that moves be made to the courts.
According to Harmon, “Brassington is so contemptuous that he feels right in his wrongness and he has to be stopped.”
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