Winston Brassington, the Executive Director of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL),
who has been at the centre of a number of controversial projects and privatisations does not act independently but rather at the behest of Cabinet, headed by the President.
This clarification came on Wednesday last, when Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon hosted his post-Cabinet media briefing and fielded questions.
According to Dr Luncheon, himself a NICIL Director, Brassington is a “creature of the Cabinet”.
Luncheon said that behind all of the decisions attributed to NICIL that have been the subject of an endless range of criticisms in sections of the media “let them address those concerns where they should be…at Cabinet.”
“Winston Brassington is no free agent, free to operate on his own at NICIL. He is a member of the Board of Directors of NICIL, chaired by the Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh and like all Boards; there is great emphasis on governance mechanisms.”
Dr Luncheon said that considerations are taken up the ladder, eventually to Cabinet for its consideration and eventual endorsement. This, he said, is a practice set in stone.
“Sections of the media would have us believe Brassington is a free agent and they (NICIL) can act as they please…that does not represent the status and situation,” said Dr Luncheon.
He added that “indeed whilst we might be encouraged to pander to the notion that NICIL seems to be engaged in activities that are unrelated to governance principles, I hasten to correct that impression.”
Brassington has been operating as the Chief Negotiator over a number of projects for which he came in for intense criticism.
These include the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Plant, the Marriott Hotel, the sale of land to Ed Ahmad, and the ever controversial sale of the Sanata Complex to Queens Atlantic Investment Inc., among a range of other questionable transactions.
In 2012, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament and Shadow Minister of Finance, Carl Greenidge piloted a Motion which sought to have Government present to the National Assembly the reports and audited accounts of NICIL and the Privatization Unit.
The Motion resolved that NICIL’s revenues should be placed in the Consolidated Fund and that the entity should be audited by an independent professional.
The government has made it clear that it does not intend to take heed of a two-year-old Motion which called for NICIL to be brought under the scrutiny of the National Assembly.
Greenidge, who piloted the Motion, told Kaieteur News that the Motion arose from general concerns about the unaccountability on the part of NICIL for a variety of actions, particularly how it had taken decisions with Government resources in a number of projects.
The Motion made reference to the fact that State assets were being disposed of without going through the proper channels.
Greenidge said, too, that the company is currently carrying out functions that contradict the original plan that fashioned the legislation to establish it. He said that the organization was originally established as a holding company which was intended to oversee the allocation of assets that came out of privatisation.
It is also responsible for advising on how properties are disposed of, but the government instead, “uses NICIL to get these lands and distribute them to its friends without having to go through any proper procedure for vetting or for setting prices or anything like that.”
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