By Latoya Giles
Even though Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh is yet to actually tell the National Assembly how the $112M which was first allocated to the Walter Rodney Commission was spent, Government has announced that a further $60M is likely to be added.
The government’s chief spokesperson, Dr. Roger Luncheon, said yesterday that the Rodney Commission has been extended and will now run until January 31, 2015.
According to Luncheon since the commission spends about $20M a month, one could safely assume that the extension of a further three months would be in the vicinity of $60m.
Luncheon explained that on September 30, the extension of the life of the commission was approved and noted by Cabinet after the decision was taken by the President. He said that cabinet, at a meeting on Tuesday last, noted the president’s intention, which had been communicated to commission members.
According to Luncheon the commission has been scheduling the public hearings and those hearings would continue into next January.
“The commission advised that its scheduled hearing would commence on October 20 and would last three weeks. It would conclude on November 7, 2014.”
It was Opposition Member for the APNU, Attorney at law, Joseph Harmon, who had made the request to the National Assembly to have the Finance Minister show how the money was spent. That request is also most three months old and the minister is yet to respond.
Harmon said that Government had never given a ‘clear’ indication of how the money would have been spent.
Back in February, President Ramotar had said that the Rodney Commission will not come cheap and that he knew for a fact that the money would be well spent.
Ramotar had denied that there was anything sinister in the holding of the inquiry; but his government was in fact fulfilling the wishes of Rodney’s wife, Patricia.
“This process has started and it was not initiated by me, but by a request by the family, particularly Rodney’s wife, Patricia Rodney,” Ramotar had said.
He had said that the Terms of Reference which some parties have been protesting against were crafted by Rodney’s family and advisors, along with some technical help from Government. The terms include “examining the facts and circumstances immediately prior at the time of and subsequent to the death of Dr. Rodney in order to determine as far as possible, who or what was responsible for the explosion resulting in the death of Rodney”.
Commissioners would have to inquire into the cause of the explosion in which Dr. Walter Rodney died; whether it was an act of terrorism and if so, who were the perpetrators.
Commissioners would also have to specifically examine the role, if any, which the late Gregory Smith, a Sergeant of the Guyana Defence Force, played in the death of Rodney and if so, to inquire into who may have counseled, procured, aided and or abetted him to do so, including facilitating his departure from Guyana after Rodney’s death.
Since the commencement of the commission, several issues have been raised by lawyers representing interesting parties. Attorney at Law Basil Williams, Selwyn Pieters and Joseph Harmon have all been very vocal on how the commission was conducting its business.
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