Close to two months after the Alliance for Change (AFC) Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, filed a complaint with the Guyana Police Force against Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, over alleged illegal spending of some $4.5B from the coffers, the law enforce agency is still to formally issue a response.
Ramjattan confirmed that up to yesterday the Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud had still not formally contacted him in relation to the status of the investigation.
He said that what is even more worrying is that he has been reliably informed that the Government is in fact interfering with the investigation with ranks being told to delay the process.
According to Ramjattan, he had expected that the police would have acted professionally and investigate the report in a timely manner.
He told this publication that based on unofficial feedback from senior ranks within the Force, the complaint has merit.
As a result of the hiatus, the AFC Leader said that during the course of this week, he will be formally approaching the police for a feedback as well as write a reminder to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The AFC leader said that while the news of government’s interference comes as no surprise, it reeks of negativity.
“We live in that reality where it is known that the Peoples Progressive Party (Government) interferes,” said Ramjattan.
He drew reference to the fact that the government had interfered, when Commander David Ramnarine, had complained over the elections funds.
Ramjattan said too that it is known that the Government was interfering during the Linden protests which subsequently left three dead.
According to Ramjattan, it was because of the reality that government, through its ministers, would from time to time interfere, that in part led to the No Confidence Motion.
He said that as a party, the AFC decided that the only way forward was the No Confidence Motion, since it is the police who have the responsibility of the enforcement of the laws and they are being hindered in their duties.
The AFC Leader said that given the revelations and modus operandi of the current administration, he is certain that the police investigation will not be completed before the conclusion of a debate on the No Confidence Motion.
He assured that should the AFC be elected to Office, the party will not let the matter fall by the wayside and will pursue the investigations rigorously with sanctions falling where necessary and as punitive as possible.
According to Ramjattan, an AFC Government would want to ensure that no future Finance Minister would even conceive such blatant wrongdoings.
Ramjattan in July last made good on his threat to lodge a formal complaint against the Minister along with officials across the various ministries which would have expended the monies that the National Assembly had disapproved in the 2014 Budget.
An extensive nine page complaint was lodged at the office of the Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud, as well as with the Director of Public Prosecutions, Shalimar Ali-Hack.
Ramjattan in his complaint, reported “that the Minster and other officials in his Ministry have committed a violation of the provisions of the FMA (Fiscal Management and Accountability) Act 2003…He has spent monies without having obtained legislative authorization.”
Ramjattan in his complaint is adamant that the expenditure constitutes a misusing, a misapplication, or an improper disposal of public monies totaling $4.533B for a period up to 16th June, 2014.
According to Ramjattan, such a violation contravenes section 46 and Section 85 of the FMA Act, by virtue of knowingly permitting other persons to contravene the provisions of the law.
“From every indication, this criminal violation will continue up to 31st December 2014.”
Ramjattan in his complaint points to the fact that the Finance Minster has pointed out that he does not need to get legislative authorisation first, or any appropriation before he spends public monies on these programmes and asserts that he can spend without appropriation because he has article 218 3(b) which comes to his aid in permitting him to do so.
“This however flies in the face of the explicit, unequivocal language of article 217 and section 16 of the FMA Act 2003.”
According to Ramjattan, the Finance Minister, feels that Article 218 (3B) of the Constitution has given him a blank cheque to spend money without prior appropriation but it does not.
Ramjattan argues that it is merely a provision as it relates to a Statement of Excess, which is prescriptive of what must be done to bring to the attention of the National Assembly what was mis-spent in any financial year for purposes of signing off the accounts for that year.
Ramjattan asserts that the article that Dr Singh is relying on does not and must never be read to give a carte blanche to the Minister of Finance to legitimise or legalise his mis-spending in contravention of the Constitution and the FMA Act 2003.
“It is only for the purpose of bringing transparency to the National Assembly as to the financial excesses of the Executive arm of the State and its excessive spending over a period of that financial year.”
Ramjattan in his complaint to the Guyana Police Force and DPP, said, “This Finance Minister, from all appearances, has completely misapprehended the concept of Statement of Excess. And by logical extension, through this misapprehension, he feels he can use this as a device to bypass the non-approvals and disapprovals of Programmes and line items voted on by the National Assembly at the Annual Estimates in April, 2014.”
Ramjattan has since argued that this is arrogance and is also criminal.
Government has come in support of the Finance Minister with none other than Head of State, Donald Ramotar, saying that Dr Singh’s actions were catered for in the constitution, and further, he was acting on a decision of Cabinet.
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